Weighty success at age 82

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For Bruce Park to start powerlifting at the age of 70 was no mean feat.

For the Clutha resident to have gone from lifting a combined weight of 180kg across bench press, squat and deadlift at age 70, to more than 430kg by age 76 is even more impressive.

And to still be stepping up to the iron bar at 82 years old is almost unheard of.

“There aren’t many left at this age,” Park said.

“I can’t imagine why.”

For the Greenfield farmer the recent NZ Masters Games was another opportunity to show what he was made of, and exercise his competitive spirit.

“But I was chasing myself this time .. if there had been people of my age competing I’d compete against them. I just love it.”

Along with help from his coach Marie Sophie, Park managed to achieve his goal to surpass 161kg in the deadlift.

“I got to 162kg … I used to lift more than that but that’s still more than 161kg,” he said.

While sport had always been a part of his life, Park’s transition to weightlifting marked a departure from his previous pursuits.

“I had been a racing cyclist. I wanted to build up my thighs to help with that so I went and saw [Balclutha massage therapist] Sue Downes.

“She helped me and I carried on cycling. But then I had a crash and hurt my shoulder.”

Park’s doctor told him he could cycle again but he should avoid falling off.

“Well I knew there was no way I could do racing cycling and never fall off … so I decided to do something else.”

Once he caught the powerlifting bug it never wore off.

His personal motto emphasised the importance of taking things slowly.

“Inch by inch is a cinch, yard by yard is hard.

“People say ‘you can’t do it’ … that’s a stupid statement to make. Of course you can do it.”

He said those considering taking up the sport, especially at an advanced age, should “take it slowly” and get a coach.

“You really need a coach. Reason being, if you get your technique wrong .. it you can fall apart when you start lifting heavier.”