Arizona nonagenarian sets weightlifting world record

PHOENIX Sat Jun 15, 2013 12:46am EDT

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PHOENIX (Reuters) - A barrel-chested 91-year-old strongman from Arizona shattered the world record for the bench press in his dwindling age group, with a lift of 187.2 pounds - some 50 pounds more than the previous record.

Sy Perlis bested the record of 135 pounds set in 2005 during a national competition last weekend in Phoenix as the lone participant in the 90-year-old and over division, competition officials said.

"He's pretty amazing, there's no doubt about it," said Gus Rethwisch, president of the World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters, who witnessed Perlis' record lift. "He looks like he could be in his 70s. He's in great shape."

Perlis, who won world titles in 2010 and 2011 in the 85-year-old to 89-year-old division, told the Arizona Republic newspaper that he started hitting the weights when he was 60 years old. He did not enter a championship competition until five years ago at the suggestion of his trainer.

"It gave me the opportunity to do something to test myself for one thing, and I didn't have to run around to do it as you would in some other sports," Perlis told the newspaper.

"I got a lot of satisfaction out of it and it made me feel good and it was good for me."

Perlis said he trains five days a week with a regimen that includes weightlifting and cardiovascular work.

Perlis told the newspaper that his doctor is aware of his competitive pursuits, and has said, "If you can do it, do it."

Rethwisch said the record lift qualified Perlis for the world championships on November 5 in Reno, Nevada. Perlis has told tournament organizers he will compete.

(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Bill Trott)

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