This past weekend, I journeyed back home to watch my 15 year old nephew, Bjorn, compete in the 13th Annual Miller's Gym Bench Press Competition (yes, we start them young in my family). The event was sponsored by the biggest gym in the area and was open to just about anyone who wanted to register and give it a shot. In all, there were about 8 different categories, based on age, weight class and methods of assistance (and by this I mean things like compression shirts, not steroids). Bjorn is about 5'9" and weighs 170 pounds. He's been lifting for about two years now.
All of us turned out to watch Bjorn lift. My parents went, as did my sister Kim, brother Mike, their families and brother Matt - Bjorn's dad. Matt acted as Bjorn's lift-off (or "spotter"). And in the end, Bjorn took second place in the teen lightweight division and 3rd in the teen overall division. His highest bench, which was his personal record, was 265 pounds.
265 pound bench press. And he's only 15!
He was so psyched. Weightlifting is a very lonely, solitary sport. You spend hours and hours, usually alone, pushing yourself and challenging yourself to do a little bit better than you did the last time. To do it properly takes a lot of concentration, willpower, and determination. And these are three qualities I am happy to see any 15 year old posess.
For Bjorn to not only do well, but to achieve a new personal best with his family watching him, must have felt incredibly triumphant. He's a great kid; he's never given my brother one minute of grief. All of my nieces and nephews are like that though - really good, nice kids. Their parents did well - which means my parents achieved personal bests too.