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MailTribune.com
  • A burden lifted: Pecktol gets record

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  • Medford's Sam Pecktol is the holder of three American records in powerlifting.But the 43-year-old Pecktol didn't feel totally complete with those records.He wanted a world record.On Aug. 24 at Tabor, Ontario, Pecktol finally savored that complete feelingin the World Drug-Free Powerlifting World Championships. It was three yearsprior that a frustrating experience at the same meet soured him on the sporttemporarily.This year, Pecktol won the world title in the age 41-43, 275-pound divisionin the dead lift and set a world record in the process. He lifted 677 poundsand successfully made nine lifts in a row.Hitting 9-for-9 is tough to do, says Pecktol. I haven'tdone that many times. And the pressure is really on in the worlds.Also setting world records was Medford's Dennis Smith in the age 65-70,123.5-pound class in the squat lift, bench press, dead lift and total poundsin Tabor. North Medford High graduate Eric Thomas set records in the age22, 165-pound class in the squat, bench press, dead lift and total.At the 1994 world championships, Pecktol was disqualified for violatinga body positioning rule that applies in international competition but notin American competitions.I was very depressed over that (the disqualification), saysPecktol. The U.S. lifters weren't prepared to deal with that rule.We needed to go back home and practice it. But it was too late.Pecktol thought about giving up powerlifting at the height of his depression.But back working at Superior Health Club, a sponsor of his with Power Barand Apple Peddler Restaurant, Pecktol returned to his training routine.I love to train and be in the gym, says Pecktol. I givesme my athletic fix for the day, and keeps me going strong and feeling good.Setting the world record represented a new high point.Besides my kids being born, it was the most exciting moment of mylife, says Pecktol, a Medford School District employee and a powerlifting coach for selected athletes in the Rogue Valley. I felt likewalking on air.After accomplishing something you have worked so hard for, you getthe feeling that you are afraid you will wake up and this will have allbeen a dream.But when Pecktol woke up Aug. 25, he was still a world champion.I feel like I've accomplished everything I wanted to in lifting now,says Pecktol. But I'm not ready to retire. I can still get better.I don't want to give up my athletic fix, which is what powerlifting is tome.Almost at Pecktol's side when he set his world record was another recordsetter from Medford. Smith, 65, set world records for his class in the squatlift (304 pounds), bench (178), dead lift (370) and a three-lift total (852pounds).Smith, who had just six competitors to defeat in his show of strength at123.5 pounds, says he surprised even himself.I finished No. — in the world, but I didn't expect to win all of theseevents and set world records, says Smith. I changed all of mytraining. I didn't train heavy at all, and I didn't do anything the lastweek before the meet.I cut back on the exercises I did that week It made me fresher, andI went into the meet with more confidence than I have before.Pecktol and Smith are coached by Mike Mooney, an Ashland powerlifter andchairman of the U.S. National Powerlifting Association, who also competesnationally and internationally.Mike has helped both of us a lot, says Smith. He deservesa lot of credit. He's a former state champion, and he knows how to preparelifters well for big meets.Thomas, who now lives in Maryland, also set three world power lifting recordsin the meet. He broke records in the age 22, 165-pound class in the squat(567 pounds), bench press (292), dead lift (600) and total (1,359).Eric has a new job working for one of his lifting sponsors on theEast Coast, says Pecktol. That has cut into his training time.But he still looked good, and did real well. He can lift an amazing amountof weight for his size.Smith, who has retired as an insurance adjustor in Medford, says he isn'tready to quit lifting on a high note.I told my wife (Norma) before the meet that I had to question whyI keep going to these meets to try to prove I'm strong, says Smith.I've already proven that.I have had some back problems, and I decided if I hurt my back anymore, I would hang it up. But I guess success breeds success. Because Ididn't hurt it at all. Right now, my plans are to be back in the worldsnext year. It makes me feel good to lift. The contests are the byproduct of being in good physical condition. That feelsreal good.Since they are amateurs, Smith, Pecktol and Thomas didn't receive prizemoney for their world titles. In fact, Smith paid a price for setting hisrecords.I got fined at Rotary (the Medford Rogue Rotary Club) for winning,said Smith, laughing. They also fined me because I let the media interviewme. But they would have fined me no matter what I did.

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