Despite powerlifting sounding like it is going to be all about brawn – there was a cheerful, almost jovial, atmosphere around the stadium at NYUAD as smiling spectators supported the hardy competitors.

The male and female powerlifters in various weight classes would test their mettle over three rounds of challenges consisting of squats, bench presses and deadlifts. They were led onto the platform by their coaches who would often hold their hand and encourage them. And the crowd was extremely encouraging, clapping before, during and after a contestant’s lift attempt.

Even if the lift was not successful, the crowd gave a loud cheer – it really is the taking part that counts at these inclusive Games. And so, one by one, the contestants came to the platform with a smile on their face and very seldom leave without one.

Many of the contestants were more than happy to play to the crowd and soak up the atmosphere posing in various Schwarzenegger-like contortions.

But there was still a competition going on and in the first round, the heaviest weight – 80kg – was lifted by Yasmein Mohamed from Egypt in the female division and Ahmed Yaqut from Saudi Arabia in the male division took the lead with a 115kg deadlift. In the second round, the heaviest weight lifted was 130kg, by Ahmed Azzouz from Libya.

Each time a contestant attempted to lift a heavier weight, the crowd cheered loudly and chanted ‘hold’ as encouragement to the contestant to maintain their position steady. Regardless of the outcome, some contestants would raise their fists in a celebratory mode or send flying kisses into the audience.

As the power lifting competition continues, one thing is for sure, the contestants have raised the bar, both in terms of their sport skills but also in terms of their spirit towards the game.