By Courtney Renee
For the fifth year, the World Association of Benchers and Dead Lifters came to Pahrump to host a competition for members of WABDL to qualify for the World Meet. The World Meet will be hosted in Reno this year.
Hosting and running the competition was Gary Miller, the Nevada representative for the WABDL. Miller explained how running this meet affects his ability to compete.
“Every state has a meet; I am not allowed to compete in this meet because I am the meet director. In order for me to qualify for the world’s, I have to go to California next week. I try to compete in eight meets in the surrounding states if my budget allows it,” Miller said.
Miller is not a stereotypical weight- lifter. At 5’3″ and 139 lbs, Miller has seen a lot of success.
“I have 21 World records; I have been lifting for eight years and I am 62 years old. My World record for bench press is 380.2 pounds and 387 pounds in dead lift,” he said.
It is quite a miracle that Miller is alive today to host the event, let alone compete in it.
In 1968, he suffered a traumatic auto accident.
“When I was 18, a drunk driver in a five-ton truck ran over me on my motorcycle, leaving me in the hospital for two years. I died once in the hospital and the doctors said I would never live, then they said I would never walk, and then they said I would never walk right,” Miller explained.
After proving the doctors wrong, Miller still struggled with his health and depression.
“I laid around going ‘I can’t because…’ and at 41 I had a heart attack, so I started studying nutrition. I was 5’3″ and 172 lbs,” said Miller. “In 2005, I started working out at the local gym and I just kept getting stronger, and I joined the Senior Olympics. In April 2007, I joined WABDL.”
Since joining the WABDL, Miller said he feels better than ever.
“I am in pain all the time, but the lifting has helped tremendously, it has made my body stronger and I don’t suffer near as much as I used to. Unlike any other sport there is no body damage from weight training and it is something you can do no matter how old you are,” he said.
There was a variety of ages competing on Saturday. The youngest competitor was 12 and the oldest competitor was 88.
There were 21 state records broken and four world records broken in the meet.
Seven different states were represented in the competition.
There were eight Pahrump competitors who broke both world and state records in their age groups.
William Prince, at 74, broke a world record bench pressing 311.8 lbs.
Other competitors who broke records on Saturday were Kathleen McKevitt, 68, Alex Lopez, 16, David Vereb, 57, Jason Yelle, 29, Edward O’Brien, 20, Joseph DeGragorio, 78 and Rodney Graves, 88. Kathleen Mckevitt contributed to this story.