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Gold’s Gym’s Gary Howard sets American weightlifting records

(Nov. 1, 2013) Weightlifter and Fitness Director at Gold’s Gym Gary Howard hadn’t won a trophy or medal in more than two decades after sustaining a blow to his shoulder.

Gold’s Gym Fitness Director Gary Howard is back in the competitive weightlifting world after a 20-year hiatus following a blow to his shoulder. Here, he coaches one of his Gold’s clients. (Clara Vaughn | Ocean City Today)

That changed on Oct. 13, when he broke two American records in his return to competitive lifting at the 2013 Central Maryland Push/Pull Raw Drug Free Challenge at the Colosseum Gym in Columbia.

“I’m on cloud nine,” Howard said following the competition.

He set a record for his deadlift of 200 kilograms (441 pounds) and for his combined bench press and deadlift score, benching 125 kilograms (276 pounds), for men age 55-59 in the 181-198-pound range.

Others have lift more, Howard said, but this competition is “raw,” meaning competitors don’t use any special lifting gear. They also passed a drug test before competing.

Howard’s office is decked out with trophies from his competing years, the most recent for a national weightlifting title in 1989.

“I love sports. I love to compete,” he said. Howard was knocked from competition shortly after winning the award because of a work-related injury.

“Whenever there was a riot, I was the front man in with the shield,” he said, explaining his past work as a police officer. During one event, a rioter stabbed his shoulder, leading to three surgeries, weight loss of more than 50 pounds and what he thought was the end of a weightlifting career.

“I never, ever thought I’d compete again,” Howard said, but his two children changed that.

“The reason that I wanted to compete again after all these years is for my boys,” he said. Jacob, 4, and Ayden, 6, are already playing sports, Howard said.

After his showing in the Oct. 13 competition, Howard said he plans to continue lifting competitively. He has been meeting with physical therapists and getting ultrasounds to try to find ways to deal with his injury, but so far, the best solution has been an arthritis medicine a client recommended — totally legal in the drug-free competitions, he said.

Howard plans to compete again in March 2014. In the meantime, he can be found coaching clients at Gold’s Gym, where he’s been fitness director for the past three years.

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