Powerlifting: Never too late to start, world champ (75) says

Bruce Park.
Bruce Park.
Bruce Park got a new lease on life when he started powerlifting four years ago. He is now a world champion and world record holder.

Park (75), a South Otago farmer, won the over-70 title in the 66kg class at the world masters powerlifting championships in Killeen, Texas, recently.

His scores were: squat 130kg, bench press 85kg, deadlift 185kg, total 400kg. The deadlift was a world record.

"I'm 75 and I've broken a world record," Park said.

"You are never too late to start."

Park and Sylvia Clarkson (66) were the only Otago powerlifters competing at the championships.

Clarkson won the bronze medal in the women's over-60 age group in the 63kg class.

Her scorers were: squat 110kg, bench press 50kg, deadlift 120kg, total 280kg. The squat was a New Zealand record.

They were part of the New Zealand team of nine lifters who qualified for the event. There were 150 competitors from 22 countries competing at the championships.

In 2008, Park won a gold medal at the Oceania championships in Tahiti and a year later won a bronze medal in the world bench press championships in Taupo.

Park suffered a setback two years ago when he slipped a disc in his back and pinched the femoral nerve, losing the power in his legs that is essential for successful powerlifting.

The steady improvement in his powerlifting has been guided by coaches Rennie and Marie Soffe.

Park was also keen on athletics in his younger days and coached his daughter, Janet, to a New Zealand senior women's discus title in 1991.

His next target is the Oceania championships in Australia next month.

Clarkson, a nurse, started powerlifting five years ago to strengthen her back. She is coached by partner Phil Murphy and has made rapid progress in the sport over the past four years.