Competition drives women weightlifters
By Oscar A. Hernandez
Special to The Advertiser
By Oscar A. Hernandez
Jill Remiticado and Shannon Abac have different goals, but the same passion in a sport that has traditionally been a male stronghold.
The two women train in weightlifting, a sport that is growing in popularity among females and catching on in Hawai'i.
"I don't think of (weightlifting) as being a 'male-dominated' sport," said Remiticado, 24. "I've experienced nothing but support from the weightlifting community."
Remiticado, of 'Aiea, has been lifting since 2003.
"I wrestled in high school (Iolani) and college (Pacific University in Oregon)," she said. "After graduating from college, I was looking for reasons to maintain a fitness lifestyle. Weightlifting appealed to me because I already had a foundation of strength from wrestling."
Remiticado would like to see how far she can go in the sport.
"The Olympics crossed my mind, but only time will tell after testing myself at the national level," she said.
Abac, 21, a fine arts student at the University of Hawai'i, said she doesn't aspire to reach the levels that Remiticado does, though she does want to push her boundaries.
"Because this sport is an entirely new activity in my life, I'd like to see how good I can get," said Abac, who has been lifting for just a few months.
"I like the danger of lifting a heavy weight above my head," said Abac, originally from Maui. "If you mess up any part of your technique, it could end in serious injury, but when you succeed, it's such a rush."
Both women are coached by Mel Miyamoto, 63, who used to be the strength coach for the Hawai'i Pacific University basketball team.
Miyamoto said he took USA Weightlifting coaching courses, and got tips from Hawai'i's Tommy Kono, who won Olympic gold in 1952 and 1956, and silver in 1960.
In 1998, Miyamoto began coaching women and now tutors six females.
Miyamoto said that women make better weightlifters because they tend to be more flexible than men. Also, because many do not have a weightlifting background, they enter the sport without "techniques that must be unlearned."
At 5 feet 1 and 120 pounds, Remiticado is not an imposing figure.
"Compared to bodybuilding, it doesn't add bulk, which I think appeals more to women," she said. "At times you wouldn't be able to tell if a woman is a weightlifter. Olympic weightlifting doesn't change the feminine appearance, like bodybuilding would."
For Remiticado, weightlifting has its benefits beyond testing one's strength.
"If anything, it provides awareness of balance and kinesthetic intelligence," said Remiticado, a construction engineer for Hawaiian Dredging Construction. "It strengthens the legs, the back and upper body."
In June of this year, Remiticado made her mark at the Hawai'i State Games, setting a state record by lifting 75 kilograms (165 pounds) in the clean and jerk; and lifting 50 kilograms (110 pounds) in the snatch for a total of 132.5 kilograms (291.5 pounds). Remiticado competed in the 58-kilogram (127-pound) weight class.
At the Team Hawai'i Developmental Meet on Sept. 10 at the Nu'uanu YMCA, Remiticado won her division. She hoisted a combined weight of 130 kilograms (55 in the snatch and 75 in the clean and jerk), or 286 pounds.
Abac also put up impressive totals at the same meet.
In the 75-kilogram weight class, Abac cleared 47.5 kilograms (104 pounds) in the snatch, and 55 kilograms (121 pounds) in the clean and jerk, for a combined total of 102.5 kilograms, or 225 pounds.
"It was a lot of fun," Abac said. "I felt my adrenaline pumping during the competition, especially because I've never competed in any type of sport in the past. I was nervous at first, but then I got into the groove of the competition and had a great time."
Because weightlifting is an anaerobic sport, Abac and Remiticado supplement their training with cardio-based exercise.
Abac rounds out her training by running on a treadmill and playing tennis, as well as doing plyometric exercises, which involve repeated jumping.
Remiticado does her cardio work by running on a treadmill, as well as doing 20 minutes of 100-meter sprints.
Remiticado offers this advice for aspiring female lifters.
"You must be a risk-taker in order to succeed as a woman weightlifter," she said. "One must be willing to persevere and endure the lifting techniques in order to hoist a particular weight amount and eventually succeed. (Don't) be so hard on yourself when you can't lift a particular weight. Keep trying."
For more information on Olympic-style weightlifting, visit www.hawaiiweightlifting.com.