National Champion readies for Commonwealth Powerlifting Federation Games

Teenager Yasmin Bhadha becomes a source of pride for New Zealanders

The pride of the community: Yasmin Bhadha with her Championship Certificate (Photo Supplied)

Rashna Dorab Tata
Auckland, September 11, 2022

A Journey of a thousand miles begins with a simple step

So totally true in Yasmin’s case. For Yasmin Bhadha that journey started in 2020.

A Year 11 student at St Kentigern College in Auckland, Yasmin found her favourite place in her power-packed day at her local gym.

Just being at the gym and doing her daily workouts, gave her utter joy and absolute contentment.

A far cry from most people her age, seeking a weekly trip to the movies or a late night out in town.

There was no family or peer pressure to go to the gym. Yasmin had set herself this little challenge of pushing herself beyond her secure comfort zone. The ‘getting fit’ part was a bonus.

Apart from being an excellent straight ‘A’ student and a high achiever in her academic life, Yasmin is also extremely dedicated to her sports.

Power-packed days

She has a brown belt and is working towards her black, she is Captain of the Girl’s Cricket team at St Kentigern and also plays for the Woman’s Premium team at the Pakuranga Cricket Club. She plays Netball in the C1 College team, at the Howick Pakuranga Netball club.

Talk about it being a 24-hour day.

Yasmin puts more into her day than most would in a week. Her normal day in most cases begins at 4 am and stops well past 9 pm. Her quiet humble disposition hides her single-minded determination and sharp mental focus and work ethos.

Come rain or shine, exams or illness, Yasmin never missed out on her daily gym trips. Her enthusiasm and focused workouts were soon noticed by other gym members. She trained alone without a personal trainer at that stage. Conducting her own research online, she had set herself, her own exercise routines.

People watching her workouts had walked up to her and asked her if she had thought about Powerlifting. The very term puzzled her at that stage. The 17-year-old had absolutely no idea what Powerlifting even meant!! She had to Google to learn more.

About a year into the gym, Yasmin thought she would raise the bar a bit higher for herself and decided that she wanted to set some new goals and get into a competitive sport. Powerlifting became her new passion.

Yasmin with her parents Kate and Burzin Bhadha (Photo Supplied)

DH Strength Systems

She went about it in her simple fashion and without any hype. She approached one of the personal trainers at the gym to coach her. In a short time, her trainer went on to mention her potential to Denzil Hogan who coached at DH Strength Systems.

That is how she met Denzil, her present coach and mentor, the man who pretty much shaped her journey from then on. She calls him her older brother, mentor and confidant.

Denzil also coached privately and wanted to take Yasmin on to her next level. Yasmin herself wondered if she was personally ready for this new move in her life.

Denzil discussed her goals with her in detail and gave her a personalised, structured workout plan. Even then neither of them had a clue, how far her Powerlifting journey would go.

Yasmin continued to work out on her own, at times visiting Denzil at his gym.

Diligent Research

As a family, the Bhadhas had never known anyone who had taken part in this sport, much less even heard about this sport and it was a realm away from all the other sports they were familiar with.

Yasmin did her diligent research, read up on techniques, motivated herself with the success stories and put in her 200%. She even paid for her coaching out of her earnings, not wanting to bother her parents with it.

When her parents Burzin and Kate, first became aware of this whole powerlifting part of her gym workouts, their first reaction was very typical as would be expected of all concerned parents. Especially ones who grew up in the Indian subcontinent, where academics was the “Be all and end all.”

Their little girl doing weights. No way! Would she start looking like a man and get heavy? The age-old stereotypes of powerlifters being heavy, bulky and muscled men frightened them. How would it affect her overall health, her body and even her future life?

There was much apprehension and worry in the Bhadha household. Yasmin researched all her information on this competitive sport and read up every bit she could find.

She trained hard and embraced her Powerlifting career in March 2021, by taking part in her first competition without her parents even being aware, just to see how she fared.

Yasmin Bhadha with Coach Denzil Hogan (Photo Supplied)

Nervous and apprehensive

Kate and Burzin became wise to it only a few weeks before the actual competition and with Covid looming in the background, only two people could accompany her. Her coach and a school friend were going with her, much to the dismay of her still fairly nervous and apprehensive parents.

Yasmin went on to win her very first competition although still quite the beginner to this sport. Her coach Denzil had already decided, that she was ready for the next step. He had put her name in for the North Island Championship, being held in May 2022. A really big event in the New Zealand Powerlifting arena.

Kate and Burzin sat in the audience with much trepidation, seeing Yasmin participate for the very first time. They were quite unprepared and naïve about how much effort, hard work and training their daughter had put in to reach this far.

Joy and elation

It was a moment of sheer joy and elation for both Yasmin and her parents to see how well she performed. Her parents also witnessed the sheer intensity of the sport and her admirable efforts. Her win was an absolute revelation for them.

Yasmin won Gold at the competition in her Sub Junior weight class under 69 kg. She had to win in three different categories. Squats, Bench press and Deadlift.

Since that day, her parents have been her biggest cheerleaders and supporters.

This win took her straight into the National Powerlifting Championships in August 2022, held in Palmerston North.

Her parents, family, friends, her teachers and her whole school were all expecting a victory and Yasmin carried this pressure well. She had worked out her own life and sports balance.

Her mother describes her as, “A very wise head on very young shoulders.”

Yasmin has figured out her very own unique manner of dealing with the challenges and demands that come with competitive sports. With her positive approach to life, she was not looking at any gains, other than excelling and performing the best she can.

Gaining confidence and determination

She was not satisfied with just dreaming big, she was mentally challenging herself and becoming more confident in her abilities.

This came with sincere dedication, sacrifice and immensely hard work.

She introspected carefully, into what she could do to improve her own performance. Powerlifting had given her the opportunity to push every limit and every goal, she could ever set for herself.

“To be a great sports person, you have to uncover your true potential and discover your own limits and then have the courage to blow past them.”

She took the “Never say Never” approach and understood limits, like fears are just an illusion. Good is not good enough when better is expected.

She went into the Nationals confident in her approach, fully knowing she would give it her all. Her passion and perseverance paid off.

She took the Gold in her weight class and Sub-junior category, competing in the Under 69 Kg weight class. She also won the award for the Overall Best National Sub-junior at the National Championship.

To win the Gold she successfully completed 115 kgs For Backsquat, 60 kgs for Benchpress and also set a new record for Deadlift at 177 kgs.

She broke her own previous record of 170 kg, which she had set, just three months ago at the North Island Championships.

The world record for Deadlift in her weight and age category sits at 181 kgs, which makes Yasmin’s record even more significant and not too far off the world’s best.

Her jubilant coach Denzil says he never expected anything less from Yasmin. He was fully confident she would make it to the top

Where to from here?

Yasmin has qualified to represent her home country New Zealand, in the Sub Junior category in her weight class of 69 kgs at the next Commonwealth Powerlifting Federation Games in 2022.

Sheer coincidence for the jubilant Bhadha family, the Games are being held in her home city of Auckland, New Zealand from 28th November to 4th December.

What greater joy, than performing and winning before her family, friends and all her well-wishers and supporters and her country?

Yasmin will wear the New Zealand Jersey with great pride and we wish her every success at the Games. She deserves every win in her journey to the top.

She has not only made her family and friend’s justifiably very proud but has the backing of the entire Parsee community of New Zealand.

About Rashna Dorab Tata

Rashna Dorab Tata

Rashna Dorab Tata has been the Past President of the Zarathustrian Association of New Zealand, serving the community from 2003 to 2009. She also serves as one of the trustees for WZO – New Zealand. Rashna has been an active Rotarian for a number of years, in fact having joined the Rotaract Club at University in Bombay.

Rashna has worked in the Media Industry, for over 18 years and is a passionate writer having written for various publications in New Zealand and overseas. She is very keen to highlight the achievements of young Parsees, growing up in New Zealand and this part of the world.

She has always been hugely involved in Community Service and moderates a special community Facebook Page ‘Indians Living in Auckland.’

This community FB group for the Indian community at large has a membership of 50,000 members and growing every month.

Rashna conducts one Live Discussion every month on this page, with a Minister or a Member of Parliament or an important Guest Speaker. This is done to provide the larger Indian community, with a collective voice and take their issues, to Policy Maker and the government.

Rashna won a special award for her services to the community in the Community Service Category at the Eighth Annual Indian Newslink Sports, Community, Arts and Culture Awards on June 20, 2022.

She has also written and edited Newsletters for the Zarathushtrian Community and Rotary.

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