Juneau powerlifter Ira Rosen waited week after week for the news this summer.
Rosen, 52, a national record holder in his weight class of the men's masters age 50-54 competition, was forced to miss this year's national masters championships in May due to a back injury. But he still had a shot at making this month's world competition in Villa de Maria, Argentina, as an alternate, and he waited to hear from the U.S. team coach.
Rosen was still waiting as the competition drew eight weeks away - the usual time when he begins serious training - then seven weeks, then six.
"Five weeks before the competition, I got an e-mail to contact the coach as soon as possible," Rosen said, and the news was that he had earned a spot on the U.S. squad.
Rosen made the most of his trip, winning the title at in the 60-kilogram (132-pound) weight class of the men's Masters II division. And, for the first time ever, the United States swept all five division titles of the championships, held Oct. 8-13.
Powerlifting competitions - which focus more on pure strength, while Olympic weightlifting uses more complex techniques - feature three different types of lifts: squat, bench press and deadlift.
Rosen's best lifts out of three attempts were 175 kilograms (385.80 pounds) in the squat, 97.5 kilograms (214.95 pounds) in the bench press and 200 kilograms (440.92 pounds) in the deadlift, for a cumulative total of 472.5 kilograms.
"It was close to my best total at worlds, and very similar to the total I had last year at worlds," he said.
Rosen, an engineer with the Alaska Marine Highway System, said the world championships are "the big show, the one everybody really works toward." Because of the late notification, Rosen's work toward preparing for the world meet was different than his usual pre-competition routine. But he found that may have worked to his advantage.
"I compressed what I'd normally do in eight weeks into five," he said. "I was a little bit fresher at competition because the training cycle was shorter; I may incorporate that into my training in the future."
Rosen said the world event was very hectic as dozens of competitors struggled to get in and out of their wraps, outfits and other equipment for different lifts under strict time limits. The meet was also plagued by injuries - which Rosen managed to avoid - due in part to the heat, and in part due to problems with the weight bars.
Rosen said with all the commotion going on around each lift, competitors had to keep focused.
"Everyone has their own little preparation routine," he said. "I usually have a couple things going through my mind, reminders of form ... that help me focus on each particular event.
"It's surprising to me how much of a mental event it is. ... By the time you get to nationals or worlds, everybody is strong or they wouldn't be there. The people who can tune out the distractions tend to be the people who don't make mistakes."
Rosen has competed in both the 123 and 132-pound classes. He opted to go at 132 for worlds because of a better chance for success.
"I was the favored lifter at 132," he said. "At 123, there is a Japanese lifter who is just about invincible. It was a foregone conclusion that I'd go to 132."
Looking ahead to next year's national competition, Rosen said he's planning to drop down to the 123-pound weight class in order to re-set his own meet records for the men's masters age 50-54 division.
Those weights, which Rosen lifted at nationals in May 2001, are 385.75 pounds in the squat, 198.25 in the bench press and 414.25 in the deadlift, for a total of 998.50. Rosen also holds the cumulative record at the 132-pound weight class- 1,058.00 pounds for all three events.
"I want to get down to 123 one more time, and I'm fairly confident I can drive up all the records," he said. "I'd like to get them to where they'll stay awhile."
Three other Alaskans, all from Anchorage, also competed in the world masters championships. Deanna Chaney won the women's Masters 75-kilogram title; Kate Dingle-Craig finished fourth in the women's Masters 60-kilogram class; and Ron Burnett finished sixth in the men's Masters II 110-kilogram class.
More about Rosen's powerlifting accomplishments can be found on the Web page of his sponsor, Titan Support Systems, at http://www.titansupport.com. Click on the "Titan Champions" link for the link to Rosen's biography.
Andrew Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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