Picking up some serious accolades – and weights – at a Strongman qualifier last month, Andre Engelbrecht is poised to continue his training to break more records next year.The 39-year-old warrant officer class 2 South African National Defence Force diver joined the Navy in 2003. Now, 16 years later, he is stationed at the operational diving division in Simon’s Town. He attributes the discovery of his love for weightlifting and strength-building to his job. Andre says his work entails far more than just diving. It includes explosive ordinates disposal above and underwater; fixing holes in ships and working with the NSRI. “So if there are callouts, we go there; we do anti-piracy.”He adds: “It’s extremely physical. Our diving cylinders weigh 20kg and we have to carry two. The bomb suit we wear is 50kg. You have to be strong to carry all that equipment around.”Noticing the strength he had developed at work, he began to train to compete.“First I did bodybuilding; and when I started picking up heavier things, I started liking it more.” In his first Strongman competition in 2014, he qualified for nationals and came third in South Africa for the under 105kg category.In 2015 he reached another milestone: squatting 300kg while weighing less than 100kg. He hasn’t stopped pushing himself since then.“This year was just the peak of everything,” he says.“In June this year, I competed in the Rhino Powerlifting Club Nationals in Pretoria. I won the under 100kg, Men Open title and placed third overall at nationals according to the power-to-weight formula.”He squatted 290kg (currently the South African record submaster), bench-pressed 185kg and did a 305kg deadlift.Then on Saturday 12 October, as part of the Strongman Union, he competed in the ASU Logpress and Deadlift Championships in Worcester which was the qualifier for Africa’s Strongest Man.“I competed in the under 90kg weight category. I set a new All Africa Conventional Deadlift record with 325kg, lifting 3.6 times my bodyweight. Then I set a new All Africa Siver Dollar Deadlift record with 420kg, lifting 4.6 times my bodyweight!”All the accolades in the world would mean nothing, however, without his weightlifting wife Aloudia Jonck-Engelbrecht by his side.“I’ve had many injuries over the past five years – a torn left peck, a torn right peck, a slipped disc, a herniated disc – and she’s the one who’s been there to support me. “She feeds me when I can’t lift my arms; she’s there for all the competitions,” he gushes.Aloudia says, through it all, she is by his side. “I don’t enjoy seeing him injured, but it’s his passion and if it’s something that makes him happy, it makes me happy.”With his support system firmly in place, Andre is looking for the next record to shatter. “My sights are now set on the Global Powerlifting Committee World Powerlifting Championship in Canada, October 2020, where I want to set new world records,” he says.In preparation for the competition, Andre is continuing his training at the gym he put together at the defence base in Simon’s Town. His trainer keeps him in tip-top shape through online sessions.In their spare time, Andre and Aloudia raise funds for Orion Organisation, a non-profit organisation for people with disabilities – a cause they feel very passionate about.The organisation will host its annual charity auction on Saturday 9 November in Cape Town and a fundraiser in Atlantis on Saturday 30 November.V For more information, call 021 572 8490.