Nicole Coopoosamy Wants to Help Powerlifting Become Well-Funded

From not knowing what powerlifting was to becoming a first-class athlete in just two years, Nicole Coopoosamy is forging her path to greatness in the sport. In 2021, she had no idea the sport even existed but has now cemented her place as one of the top powerlifters in the country. All Photos: Supplied

From not knowing what powerlifting was to becoming a first-class athlete in just two years, Nicole Coopoosamy is forging her path to greatness in the sport. In 2021, she had no idea the sport even existed, but has now cemented her place as one of the top powerlifters in South Africa.

https://gsport.co.za/angela-yeung-climbs-mountains-to-raise-funds-and-awareness-for-gbv/

She spoke to gsport and shared how her journey in powerlifting began as she was looking to improve her physical well-being.

“At the beginning of 2021, I decided to get myself into shape and asked a friend of mine (Tambe Joesha) to help me be accountable with my fitness journey. Even though I am a personal trainer myself, I still needed someone to be accountable to. 

“We then started basic strength training for overall fitness, and a few months into 2021 I found out about the sport and went to watch a local powerlifting competition. 

“I will never forget the atmosphere that day, it was electric. Everyone supported everyone, it was incredible.”

Nicole Coopoosamy is Keen to Improve Funding for Powerlifting

“From that moment on, I could not stop thinking about this ‘new sport’ I had just encountered. I then asked Tambe to help me get ready for my first competition and coach me to be able to compete in the sport.”

In December of that year, she competed at her first official SAPF (South African Powerlifting Federation) sanctioned competition (Western Cape Powerlifting Provincial Championships). Coopoosamy went on to not only win her category but also claim the best open female athlete of the competition. She says it “felt like powerlifting found me and not the other way around.”

Her quick ascent in the sport now means she is attending various competitions, but that comes at a cost. It comes as no surprise that powerlifting is one of the less supported sports, especially when it comes to the financial aspect. Coopoosamy, like many athletes, has had to take it upon herself to come up with her own money to participate in various events.

She is now focusing on raising enough funds to make it to the World Championships and says there has been a great positive response in her quest to participate in the event next month.

“I am currently raising funds to get to the World Championships as powerlifting is not a funded sport yet. As athletes, we pay for everything ourselves, including our national attire. The fundraising is currently going well. I have started a BackaBuddy campaign, and many kind individuals have helped me on this journey to raise R34,000 thus far. I need a total of R48,000 to cover all expenses excluding food. I am hoping to raise the total so that I can compete for South Africa in June at the World Championships.”

Despite her positive efforts, she has shared that, like many other female sportswomen, funding can be quite a struggle.

“It is extremely difficult to make funding happen for powerlifting as many people are not even aware of the sport yet. Especially as a female athlete in a male-dominated sport, it is even harder. Companies are very reluctant to sponsor powerlifting athletes because the sport is still so small in our country. As a female powerlifter, I hope that this sport will become well-funded to give us the best possible opportunities to compete with the rest of the world and show the world the potential that South Africa has.”

Coopoosamy, who is also a personal trainer, says she is forced to use her own money but hopes she will be able to flip the script when it comes to making her sport one that is financially supported.

“Unfortunately, because the sport is not well recognised, all competition fees are at our own expense. 

“I have done my best to raise funds for all international competitions that I have competed in thus far, and am currently raising funds for the World Championships. But national competitions are at my own expense. To compete at SA Nationals each year as a Western Cape athlete costs roughly R10,000. This includes the competition fees, flights, accommodation, food, etc.”

“I love this sport so much and have a deep passion for it, but to be honest, it does become extremely expensive. Because it is so expensive, many athletes do not get the opportunity to compete at a national level even though they have the potential. My goal is to help change this narrative, to help powerlifting become a well-funded sport in our country.”

Coopoosamy has also revealed what is being done to make powerlifting more accessible to women. Last year, on Women’s Day, the Western Cape Powerlifting Federation hosted a beginner’s powerlifting workshop for females in a bid to help introduce more women to the sport. According to the top powerlifter, the growth has been clear to see.

“We had various guest speakers to help the women understand what the sport is about, both the physical and mental sides. It was a great success, and we plan on doing more of those workshops regularly.”

“Each province is also hosting a lot more local competitions and encouraging women to join in. Through this, we have seen rapid growth in the sport with the number of females competing. 

“Women are becoming more aware of the benefits of strength training and are starting to take an interest in the three compound movements in their training (squat, bench press, deadlift).

This then leads them to powerlifting as a sport. At nationals this year, we had a record number of women competing compared to previous years, which proves that the sport is growing among females. There are many female powerlifters in SA, including myself, who are encouraging women on social media to join the sport and speaking about the benefits of strength training in general. I do believe the number of females competing will grow exponentially in the next 3-5 years, with many rising stars that will make our country proud,” she said.


Main Photo Caption: From not knowing what powerlifting was to becoming a first-class athlete in just two years, Nicole Coopoosamy is forging her path to greatness in the sport. In 2021, she had no idea the sport even existed but has now cemented her place as one of the top powerlifters in the country. All Photos: Supplied

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