Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blind Lifters See Their Way to World Title

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blind Lifters See Their Way to World Title

Article excerpt

While big-league baseball and hockey sulk with blinders on, the Men of Vision went abroad to huff and puff and pick up a world championship.

The United States, with a big lift from St. Louisans, successfully defended its title at the World Blind Powerlifting Tournament recently in Marbella, Spain.

"We have that on our T-shirts - Men of Vision," said St. Louis police Sgt. Rich Banahan, the team's full-sighted spokesman, traveling secretary and spiritual leader. "People don't understand. These guys do everything other people do. They just can't see. Most of them have wives and kids and regular jobs.

"Our guys usually compete with sighted guys. Just point us in the right direction. Once we're on the platform, we're fine."

Coach Matt Wahlig of St. Louis got gold medal-efforts from heavyweight Ron Carich of Collinsville and superheavy Garland Burress of Fenton. At 149 pounds, senior Corey Watson of the St. Louis School for the Blind was fourth. Each team's top six lifters count in the standings.

The 220-pound Carich, 35, is a plumber put out of work when he was blinded by a gunshot. He had to win his deadlift for the United States to repeat as champ. To do that, he had to beat the reigning titlist from Great Britain. To do that, he had to hoist 60 pounds above his personal best.

Wahlig told Carich only that the deadlift of 215 kilograms (473 pounds) was for the individual gold. No sense increasing the weight by piling on the team's victory hopes.

"I really wanted to beat that guy from England," Carich said.

He did. By a quarter-pound.

Both men tied at 215 kilos. That left them with totals of 1,265 pounds in the event's three stages - squat, bench press and deadlift. The tie-breaker goes to the lighter lifter. Carich weighed 4 ounces less, so the United States won by a spit.

"We went insane," Banahan said. "Carich was like a mystical hero."

The United States claimed victory but actually tied Iran with 69 points. Banahan handled the diplomatic relations with his Iranian female counterpart.

"She said, `Please, sir, who came in first?' I said, `We did.' She said, `Why are you first?' I said, `Because we won.' She said, `Why are we second? …

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