In early June, three young Thai powerlifters flew to Sweden to compete in the IPF World Classic Championships alongside more than 1,000 athletes. Worathida “Paan” Theopanich, 22, won bronze for best overall in the junior U43 weight class, while Wongsatorn “Job” Angchaibunsrisuk, 22, landed ninth best in the junior U74 class. Phuripat “Pad” Yimerhthi, 19, competed in the most-competitive weight class, U83.

How did you get into powerlifting?

Job: I was bodybuilding but started to get bored. Then I gave powerlifting a go and it was fun so I stuck with it. I’ve been doing it for three-to-four years now.
Pad: I just wanted to get lean. I was also into bodybuilding at first, too. Then I met John Del Castillo [his coach] who saw my legs and thought they looked strong, so he asked if he could train me.
Paan: I was a sport-science student and went to the gym regularly. I went to check out a competition in October and there was a booth for people to try out for fun. I lifted the 60kg deadlift quite breezily. John Coyle [TPF's sponsor and chairperson] approached me and I’ve been doing it since.

How did you do in the competition?

Job: I competed in the Under 74kg Junior category and landed ninth best in bench at 142.5kg. My squat was 177.5kg and deadlift 217.5kg.
Paan: My squat was 87.5kg and was third best in the world. I bench at 47.5kg and deadlift at 127.5kg—that was second best in the world. Overall I landed third best in the world for Under 43kg Juniors.
Pad: My squat is 227.5kg, bench 117.5kg and deadlift 222.5kg. I competed in the Under 83kg Junior. It’s the most competitive weight class. I didn’t win anything [laughs].

How often do you train?

Paan: I train five days a week, rotating on form, not all of them in one day.
Pad: I train four days a week, squatting three days.
Job: I train four days, with form rotations as well.

How was your experience competing globally?

Job: I did better than I expected because I injured my hamstrings months before the competition.
Paan: It was very fun, but I wanted to do better—I could do more when I was training.

Why do you think powerlifting isn’t more popular in Thailand?

Paan: I think people think it’s dangerous.
Pad: Especially with girls, they are afraid to get bulky, which is impossible, I mean, look at Paan.

As a woman, what has powerlifting taught you?

Paan: It’s really fun. I set myself goals, then I just keep training hard to try and achieve them.

What techniques have you learned from powerlifting that you could use in real life?

Pad: Patience is key. Nothing comes easily, everything takes time.
Job: I’ve learned to overcome my own ability. I try to be better every day.
Paan: Never give up, always keep trying.

Any advice for aspiring powerlifters?

Pad: Just give it a go, see what you can do, but start light—don’t injure yourself.
Paan: Just try. It’s not really as scary as it seems.

Try out a free class with national team coaches at Thai Powerlifting Federation (4/F, Ascott Sathorn) every Wed, 6pm. Sign up via 061-994-0249