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Johnson City man captures world powerlifting title, three records

Johnson City powerlifter J.C. Roy celebrates at the World Powerlifting Congress meet Nov. 10 in West Palm Beach, Florida, after earning the title for his age and weight class during the world championships. Roy set three world records as well as representing the United States in the meet. Courtesy photo


JOHNSON CITY — When J.C. Roy of Johnson City pulled into West Palm Beach, Florida, on Nov. 9, he wasn’t there to enjoy the beaches and nightlife.

He was there to do a “little” heavy lifting.

When Roy wrapped things up Nov. 10, he headed out of West Palm Beach with three world records and some additional hardware.

“And I retired from competitive powerlifting,” the 48-year-old said with a grin. “No matter what I did from then on as far as powerlifting, no matter how much I lifted, how many metals I won, none of it would compare to what I accomplished there.”

What Roy accomplished was winning the World Powerlifting Congress title for the single-ply (minimal equipment), Master 2 championship in the 275-pound class. To do that, Roy faced some of the strongest competitors from around the world. And while winning was great, it was the fact he represented the United States in the meet that made it even better for the Johnson City lifter.

“When you’re there representing the United States, it just gives you chills,” he said.

Roy won his classification’s title as well as setting three world records in his division for overall total, squat and dead lift.

And to think, he only competed in a qualifying meet at the urging of a friend and fellow lifter.

“I really had made up my mind that I was done with competitive lifting,” Roy said. “But my friend called and said I really should enter (the American Powerlifting Federation) meet.”

Roy balked at the idea since he hadn’t been concentrating on competitive powerlifting but decided to enter. His goal wasn’t to win or even qualify for the world championships (which required finishing in the top three) but just to go out and make good lifts. When the metal settled, however, Roy found himself among the top three and qualified for the WPC Worlds in Florida. The meet actually stretches Nov. 10-16, but Roy’s class hit the platform the first day.

Again, Roy didn’t go in with the idea of putting up his best powerlifting numbers. At 48 and with a few previous lifting injuries, Roy went in with realistic expectations.

“I didn’t go there to put up a mess of numbers,” he said. “I wanted to just put in good solid lifts.”

Under the rules, Roy had to make his initial lift in each discipline (squat, bench and dead lift) to continue. For instance, competitors start with the squat. If Roy picked an opening weight he couldn’t lift and failed at the attempt, his meet was basically over. His strategy was then to open the squat with a lift he knew he could make.

It’s not just about lifting, but how you lift. The WPC, as well as other competitive powerlifting organizations, follow certain guidelines in determining if an athlete correctly performed a lift. One of the caveats with the squat is going deep enough that the thighs are parallel with the floor or just below that and judges — three of them — make the call on whether a lifter attains that mark.

This presented a bit of a problem for Roy. Since he often trains alone in his gym, he doesn’t have somebody providing feedback, so he relies more on feeling his way into the deep squat. But the international judges don’t care a lick about a “feeling,” they want to see it.

Roy hit all three of his squats, working up to 227.5 kilograms.

During the warm-ups and between lifts at the WPC Worlds, Roy found some allies in several Finnish lifters. They let him know when he was up as well as gave him some feedback during warm-ups.

“That’s one of the incredible things about this sport,” Roy said. “You are competing against these guys, but they’re helping you out as well.”

He went one-for-three in the bench press, admittedly his most challenging lift, for a weight of 142.5 kilograms. In the dead lift, Roy went two-for-three, working up to 205 kilograms.

His total ended up at 575 kilograms.

When Roy finished the day, he was content with his performance.

“It wasn’t my best numbers, but it wasn’t my worse,” he said. “I went in there to put up good numbers and make my lifts in each event, and I did.”

But then one of the guys in his division approached and congratulated him.

“It didn’t sink in until one of my competitors said, ‘You’re world champ,'” Roy said. “He said, ‘Not a bad day when all you did was just come here to lift.'”

Along with the title, Roy found a great sense of pride in representing the United States in the meet. He also found a connection with his fellow lifters from around the world

“We may not have always understood what each other was a saying, but we all understood lifting heavy,” Roy said before adding with a laugh, “That and drinking beer and eating burgers.”

With the worlds behind him, Roy has decided to retire from competitive lifting, though he’ll continue to train at his facility, Hill Country Power Barn. But his competition days aren’t behind him. During the past several years, Roy has latched onto another competition: Celtic games.

“Yeah, throwing things is a lot easier on this old body of mine than the powerlifting,” Roy said.

But is the world ready to see Roy in a kilt?