Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Superman Competition

Marines, Soldiers and Sailors all lift weights for their own reasons. Some service members dedicate all their free time to grueling workout schedules. At Camp Al Qa'im, Iraq, the staff of the Morale Welfare and Recreation center recognizes an individual once a month for his weightlifting efforts. Military members from around the base came to the MWR here to test their strength with fellow athletes. After registration closed down, brief rules were read before the competition began. "Everyone chooses how much weight they can lift and gets one chance to lift it," said Robert Buck, an MWR coordinator, who then called out the first contestant to the bench-press event. Total scores came from adding the pounds lifted during a bench-press, squat and dead-lift. Servicemembers techniques varied depending on which event they specialized in."If you know that your best event is benching, then you have to conserve energy during the squat and dead-lift to focus efforts on that one event," said Lance Cpl. Philip Swain, 21, an infantryman with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, Regimental Combat Team 5, from Louisville, Ky. Some men struggled to lift more weight than they could handle, resulting in scores of zero during certain events. The MWR staff kept track of scores, and following the final dead-lift of the evening, they determined the winner. Cpl. Charles Thomas, 21, an infantryman with Company G, 2nd Bn., 2nd Marines, from Hendersonville, N.C., claimed the win with two overall top scores in squatting, 435 pounds, and dead-lifting, 515 pounds. His total combined score with the bench press was 1,225 pounds. The staff does not hand out awards or prizes for these achievements, but in recognition, Thomas' picture will hang on the wall of the MWR with other's who joined the "1,200 club" before him. The only words from Thomas as he left were, "I'll be here next month." But with new competitors arriving all the time, anything could happen during the next contest.

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