- Published: 27 December 2012
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12/7/2012 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- Andre Gholson doesn't need to display his powerlifting gold medals at his office at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center or at home. All that matters to the Critical Care Air Transport Team nursing consultant from the 59th Medical Wing is that the record books show he is a world champion. Gholson added another milestone to his record in October when he won the overall gold medal in the International Powerlifting Federation's World Masters Powerlifting Championships for the 40 to 49-year-old category in Killeen, Texas. He also took gold in squat (815 pounds) and deadlift (661 pounds). Gholson's wins in the other categories were surprising to him since his original goals were to hone his skills in only bench pressing. After taking advice from his first trainer, Ray Baxter, who believed Gholson could be a powerlifter, he decided to compete in powerlifting competitions at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston beginning in 2006. While training, Gholson was looking for a formula for success and noticed other lifters wore a type of shirt that helped them push weight more easily. Powerlifters wear weightlifting shirts that help them push more weight and help take pressure off their joints. Baxter also introduced him to Gene Bell and Ennis White, who were accomplished powerlifters in their own rights. It was Bell who helped Gholson get on track, putting him on the elliptical. "He helped me get into shape," Gholson said. "He helped me out with a lot of my technique and form." Gholson also said Bell helped him curtail several bad habits. "Instead of going to the bar, yelling and jerking the weights, Bell told me to calm down and use my energy on my lifts."
Gholson found both success and heartbreak during his journey to being a world champion. He went to the USA Powerlifting Masters Nationals in 2011 where he won in his 275-pound weight class. As a result of winning that competition, Gholson was chosen to represent Team USA at the IPF World Masters Powerlifting Championships in Canada. In Canada, Gholson was disqualified due to bringing the bar too close to his abdomen.
"They called it a belly bench," he said. "The judges said I touched the belly instead of the chest. I bombed out, and I didn't get one qualifying bench in. If you can't get one qualifying bench in, you are out of the show entirely."
Gholson was devastated. The loss didn't bother him as much as knowing his family was watching a live stream of the event. The powerlifter didn't lift weights for two months after the Canadian competition. But he got back into the gym last December and trained like he never trained before for future competitions. "I did lifts that I've never done before," Gholson said. "People were asking me why I was lifting so much weight, and I told them that the extra weight was going to be what it takes to win. I could not leave any doubt in the judges' minds that my lift was good."
Gholson trained with fellow powerlifter Ron Lloyd, who continued to help him fine tune his weightlifting, Lloyd helped him prepare for the 2012 USA Powerlifting Masters Nationals in Colorado, where Gholson won the 264-pound weight class in the 40-year-old division. As a result of winning in Colorado, Gholson qualified for the world championships in Killeen. To prepare for Killeen, Gholson had to lift and squat between 500 and 750 pounds through several repetitions. He also had to perform triceps and biceps exercises with dumbbells. Gholson trained hard - three times a week and sometimes on Saturday.
His wife and two children attended the Killeen event, along with co-worker, Maj. William Moore, CCATT pilot unit manager for the 59th Medical Wing. "It took everything in me not to start crying," Gholson said about the support of his family and friends. "The world judges don't care about you crying. They are waiting for you to make your attempt to lift, but it's hard to hold back when you know that people you care for are watching you."
Gholson said that winning the IPF masters competition in Killeen was vindication for what happened in Canada. He said it was the third biggest accomplishment behind getting married and seeing his children being born. "I told myself when I started training for this event was that I'm not going to lose in Texas," Gholson said. "I would have to be injured in order for my competition to beat me at home."
Since his win last month, Gholson has taken a break and not lifted. He has lost more than 100 pounds and follows a healthy, holistic regimen, where he drinks lots of water and consumes no junk food. He plans on going back to the gym in December, but at this time, he is undecided if he is going to compete in the future. If Gholson does decide to come back, he said he is leaning toward the Men's Open Nationals Competition. He would still like to compete in the Men's Masters Competition as well. His goals would be to be a dual champion in the open and masters categories at the national and world levels. Both events at both levels will be here in the States.
"If there is a chance I can be a national and world champion in the open and masters categories, how can I pass that up?" Gholson said.
"I am proud of Andre, he is an amazing person and an amazing athlete," Bell said of his protege.
by Jose T. Garza III
JBSA-Lackland Public Affairs