Despite mix-up, Guyanese lifter takes home bronze



Though present at the party, John Edwards almost missed the opportunity to get a dance.

The Guyanese and Caribbean heavyweight champion was on his way to warm-up at the recent International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) World Masters championship in St. Catharine’s when he realized the lifters in his weight category were already on the floor competing.

Edwards was staying at the Holiday Inn & Suites Parkway Conference Centre where the 29th annual men’s event was being held. He blamed the mix-up on the program schedule which indicated his event would start at 10 a.m.

“I had breakfast around 7 a.m. and then went back up to my room to relax and get mentally prepared,” said the 44-year-old married father of an 18-month-old son. “Two hours later, I came downstairs to go and warm-up only to realize they were calling the participants for my category. I had to rush into my first event without doing any stretching or lifting light weights which is part of my preparation before the start of a tournament. It takes me about 20 minutes to break into a sweat and be competition-ready.

“What this taught me is that a competitor at major international competitions needs to have support personnel like a coach or manager to attend the daily official meetings and take care of those things. The change may have been made at one of those meetings, but I was unaware because I was on my own, busy training.”

Despite the confusion, Edwards won bronze medals in the squat, bench press and deadlift events with a total of 489.25 points. American Michael Mastrean clinched the gold medal with 558.64 points while Canada’s Francis Rousseau secured silver with 508.20 points in the eight-man event.

The only Caribbean representative at the Canadian tournament believes the misunderstanding in the starting time cost him an opportunity to post a personal-best record in the squat which is his strong suit.

Aiming for 800 lbs (362.9 kg), he fell well short lifting 733.16 lbs (332.6 kg) in his final attempt. He forfeited his first try because he was not ready to compete and was unable to complete his second try.

Edwards, who hoisted 485 lbs (220 kg) and 644.9 lbs (292.5 kg) in the bench press and deadlift respectively, said he was satisfied with his performance.

“To medal at an international competition is a major achievement,” he said. “Had it not being for the mix-up, I know that I would have been taking home either silver or gold. I did the best I could in the circumstances and made myself, my family and my country proud.”

With 20 years experience in the strength sport, the 260-lb (117.9 kg) champion has been a golden boy since making his debut in a major competition in 2008 at the inaugural Caribbean championship in Aruba. He also competed in the North American championship later that year in St. Thomas, the Pan American championship in Miami in 2009, the Caribbean tournament which Guyana hosted for the first time last year and the regional championship in the Cayman Islands last March.

Edwards won gold medals in both the Open and Masters categories at these events.

Guyana was denied the opportunity at more medals because middleweight Winston Stoby did not receive his visa in time to travel to Canada for the competition. The 52-year-old Masters II regional champion won a gold medal in the open division at the 1996 Pan American championship in Hamilton.

“I know Winston is pretty disappointed he did not make the trip because he wanted to come and break the dead lift record,” said Edwards. “When you look at what the participants did in his weight category, he would have been returning home with either gold or silver.”

Guyana finished 12th in the 14-team competition ahead of The Netherlands and Hong Kong. The U.S. won the team title ahead of Canada, France, Germany, Finland, Australia, Japan, The Czech Republic, Russia, Denmark and Puerto Rico.

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