Updated: Sep 26, 2020
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself
A: My name is Duncan Law, and I am going into my second year as an Engineering student at New College. I’m originally from Hong Kong, but I’ve been studying and living in the UK for the past few years now.
As the incoming Novice Captain for the Club, I am the first point of contact for the freshers or new Club members for anything powerlifting and OUPLC related. I took on this committee role because I really enjoy meeting like-minded people, and even though I’ve only been in the Uni and in the sport for a year, I feel like I am still continuously learning and I can’t wait to share it with people who were in my position just a year ago!
Q: How did you find out about powerlifting?
A: Powerlifting is still a fairly new sport for me. I used to play basketball for my school team and was pretty terrible at it, to be blunt! Being fairly short for basketball and having limbs that don’t seem to be coordinated most of the time, I realised basketball wouldn’t be a sport I’d be highly involved in at university level. Being a competitive person, I wanted to have a sport that I can participate at a relatively high level. Luckily the school basketball team had compulsory strength and conditioning sessions, and I slowly fell in love with lifting (even more than basketball itself), especially when my friends would hype me up!
Back then I knew a few school friends who were into powerlifting, in particular Ernest Wong the Club’s incoming Men’s Captain, and I was introduced to the sport.
Q: How/when did you get involved in OUPLC?
A: I already had my sights on joining OUPLC straight after I got my offer. I was training powerlifting that summer, and I knew I wanted to take my strength to the Club. I still remember going to the powerlifting gym on the second day of Fresher’s week, hungover from the night before, and being really excited at all the cool equipment. I never had a chance to train with competition equipment, and needless to say it was an amazing moment. But it wasn’t just the equipment, it was the legendary vibe in the gym I’ve heard about, and the hype lived up.
Q: What is your fondest memory of OUPLC?
A: There are so many moments that are unforgettable in my short two terms with the Club, but the single memory I know I will never forget is my first Varsity competition against Cambridge, which was also my first powerlifting meet. I was the youngest person on the team, just barely scraping into the starting lineup after worrying if my hard work would pay off, so needless to say I was insanely nervous going in. But having the whole Club behind my back was such a surreal moment. Everyone was shouting at each other, the atmosphere was truly otherworldly. In the end I managed to break the 500kg total mark, PB’d on every lift, obtained a Half-Blue and qualified for BUCs.
As a fresher who barely knows what he’s doing, this moment was absolutely second to none. As a result I grew to love the Club even more, and knew I wanted to be a bigger part of it.
Benefits of powerlifting
Q: Do you think that powerlifting has had an effect on any aspects of your life? If so, how?
A: I think this mostly boils down to two parts: the physical and mental aspects. The physical is pretty evident: stronger muscles, fat burning, denser bones et cetera, but I think the benefits it has to your mental wellbeing shouldn’t be underestimated.
Through training pretty much the same heavy movements, it requires a lot of discipline and self-motivation inside and out the gym. You can’t expect to be good if you train really hard but sleep 3 hours every day and go out on a sesh 5 times a week, and exclusively eat Hassans’ kebab. It teaches you to be aware of what you do to your body.
The confidence you get from powerlifting is also a big part of why we do it. Be it in terms of strength or body image or general fitness, you become more comfortable in your own skin. The fact that this is a very goal-oriented sport – you see the numbers go up and down – makes you become very objective about what you’re aiming for, and teaches you how to set targets realistically and sustainably. It’s the continuous desire to become a better individual every single day, even if it means you have to put in a lot of hard work all the time. The feeling of being proud of yourself hitting goals builds that confidence and is second to none.
Another big thing is learning the ability of habit stacking. This basically means doing the thing you’re lacking with something you’re confident in, and build up the habit of doing the bad thing a little bit better every single time until it becomes another thing you’re confident in. This slow process is difficult and it’s something I’m trying to be better at, but the pursuit of controlling the variables you can control in the process of reaching your goal is something powerlifting teaches you.
Q: Do you have any personal goals in the sport?
A: Personally, I think I have a few goals I’d like to hit down the line. I don’t normally like to openly disclose my goals except to myself and my coach, but in a nutshell it’d be competing and building up a respectable total at the 83kg weight class, represent Oxford in all the Varsity events as well as BUCs in my time here, and compete in Junior Nationals next year.
Q: Do you have any goals within your committee role?
A: I’d like to be one of the best Novice Captains in the Club. It’s going to be difficult matching what my predecessors have done, but I am ready to take on the challenge, especially under “these uncertain times”. Potentially I’d like to run for other committee roles in the next few years as well and contribute to the Club in different ways.
Q: Do you have a message to anyone considering getting involved in powerlifting?
A: I know that stepping into the gym is going to be daunting; seeing all these unfamiliar faces, really strong people shouting at each other can be quite intimidating and I was in that spot when I first came in. But just know that everyone is so friendly and in no time you’ll be one of the people joining in the shouting. The Club has a truly fantastic atmosphere packed in a small space but that’s what makes everyone so close. We support each other, inside and out training, and there is no better way to meet people who do such a wide range of subjects across different years, varying backgrounds and characters, who all strive towards being as strong as possible.
Do join in the Club-organised events such as the Novice Mock Meets or the induction sessions (Covid permitting, of course). They help you get an idea if powerlifting is for you. If you like it, compete, even if you’re unsure whether you’re ‘strong enough’; the Club and I will be there to guide you on your way there and I can personally promise you will not regret the choice.
Q: Plug yourself; is there anything that you want readers to know about yourself or in general?
A: Lastly, a few shameless plugs – follow me on Facebook or Instagram (@duncantlaw for the private and @lawkout for the lifting) and don’t hesitate to message me on anything powerlifting, OUPLC, engineering, uni or life related. I may not know as much as my fellow Club members but I will do my best to help you and be a friendly face you can feel comfortable to chat with!