Kettlebell contest gets a mighty lift

At 1.75m tall and weighing just 64kg, Sergey Rudnev does not stand out in the crowd.

But give him a pair of kettlebells and he will draw oohs and aahs.

He can repeatedly hoist overhead a pair of the cannon-ball-shaped objects that match his body weight with speed and grace.

Rudnev, 45, and another exponent, Sergey Merkulin, 43, are in town to lend their support to the Asian Kettlebell Championship 2013 that was held at United World College of South East Asia in Tampines Sunday at 8am.

The two Russians, from the International Kettlebell Sport and Fitness Academy (Iksfa), have 21 world titles between them.

Sunday's event - the biggest of its kind in Asia - has drawn 90 participants from 12 countries, including Australia, the United States and Kazakhstan.

"Based on the number of countries and athletes participating, as well as the level of organisation, this will become the greatest kettlebell tournament in South-east Asia," said Rudnev.

While there are no hard figures on how many people here have taken to kettlebells, anecdotal evidence suggests that the sport is drawing more converts.

Kettlebells are becoming an increasingly common sight in commercial gyms, giving users another workout option besides machines and tools like dumb-bells and barbells.

Hayati Nuffus, 28, organiser of the Sunday competition, noted that eight exercise studios that have carved out a niche in kettlebell training have opened here over the last three years.

She said Singapore is "one of the front runners" in Asia with regards to the sport.

"We have 90 participants taking part this Sunday, of whom 33 are local. But we're always looking to increase that number," she added.

She is getting help from Rudnev who is in Singapore for the first time.

"By supporting this event in Singapore, I hope to make kettlebells more popular in Asia," said the strongman, who trains six times a week.

He also conducts seminars and workshops to promote the sport.

"I think it is a great sport that can benefit the health of people from all walks of life," said the father of two, who took part in his first contest 23 years ago.

His passion for the sport is so strong that he added that he will be coming again to Singapore next year to help out.

David Devito, currently the best male kettlebell lifter from Singapore and highest-ranked lifter in Asia, will be among those vying for honours.

Said Devito, 47: "I'll give it my all and try my best to defend my title of the best in Asia, but judging from the level of competition I'll be facing, it won't be an easy task."

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