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At 81, Austin again seeks world powerlifting prowess
Richard Austin, 81, is seen wearing medals for winning the bench press and deadlift in the 220-pound division, age 80-84 division. He is holding trophies for being named the outstanding lifter in both events. (Times photo by Bruce Farrin)
RUMFORD -- Like many 81 year olds, Richard Austin has to deal most days with many aches and pains.
"My back is bad. My knees hurt. I take a lot of Aleve," he says.
But other than that, Austin is anything but typical as he remains a world-class powerlifter and will soon begin the rigorous training required to compete in the world championships in November at Balley's Hotel in Las Vegas, NV.
There will be between 450 and 650 entrants from all over the world. Austin said he expects there will be six or seven guys in his age division this time around, some of which he competed against two years ago.
In 2010, Austin won world titles in the bench press and dead lift. Of course, he was "only" in his seventies back then.
"I've never lost," noted Austin. However, he said he's always open to any advice that might be offered. "I don't know everything."
Austin's ticket for an opportunity for a world title was punched with his performance at the World Amateur Bench Dead Lift (WAVDL) nationals qualifier held recently in Portland.
All he did there was win medals for winning the bench press and deadlift in the 220-pound division, age 80-84 division, as well as trophies for being named the outstanding lifter in both events. The next oldest competitor at this event was 67 years young.
Austin did 325 pounds in the bench press and 352 pounds in the dead lift, impressive totals, but he noted, "I did not try my best; just enough to qualify. I'm good for more."
His goal for the world event will be 385 in the bench and 407 in the deadlift, which is what he was doing when he was in his seventies.
Weightlifting has been a big part of Austin's life from the age of 13. And he has been competing since 1947.
"I know from experience that you must set goals but they must be attainable. You have to be honest with yourself and set realistic goals. I compete with myself, not anyone else who is out there," he noted.
"Physically, I can no longer train the way I want to, but I know how to motivate myself," said Austin, adding the key for his sport is that, "You have to have the mentality, motivation and desire."
As far as his training, he says he doesn't do heavy weights, mostly conditioning with lighter weights, until out eight weeks away from an upcoming event.
Then Austin concentrates on the heavy weights.
He recognized three people who "helped me to where I am today." They are Russell Barlow, Alan Cayer and John Westleigh, all of whom are accomplished powerlifters in their own right who also train in Austin's Gym.
"Powerlifters cannot compete without the assistance of people to spot and train with. You can't put a value on it," Austin noted.
As he showed his latest trophies and medals for his accomplishment, a big container of cheese balls was spied in his living room.
"Now you know my secret!" joked Austin.
On more than a couple occasions, he has said he was retiring from the sport. But still he continues.
Austin readily admits, "I'm obsessed, fanatical (about powerlifting). I was born for it."