(March 14, 2014) What started as a whim has become a lifetime passion for one local weightlifter.
Ocean City’s Mike Hedlesky isn’t far from achieving his goal — to become one of the best in the world of weightlifting — just nine years after discovering the competitive sport.
He took home second place in his category in the Arnold 2014 USA Powerlifting-Raw Challenge on Feb. 28, part of the international Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio, benching 408 pounds, squatting 633 and deadlifting 777.
The next day, Hedlesky pulled sixth place in the International Powerlifting Federation Pro Deadlift with a weight of 771 pounds, falling behind five world record-holders.
Growing up in Howard County, Hedlesky was an avid athlete and took his passion for football to the team at Salisbury University when he started college. When his teammates had an extra form for the Mid-Atlantic Open weightlifting competition in 2005, he signed up.
With no weightlifting training, the novice took home first place in his junior heavyweight division.
“I pretty much fell in love with it immediately,” Hedlesky said. “I was pretty excited that I found something I’m finally good at.”
Standing at 6-2 and weighing in around 270 pounds — he lost almost 40 pounds for the Columbus competition — Hedlesky stands juxtaposed to his family, who all fall below 6 feet tall, he said. But coming from generations of farmers gave him the work ethic needed to lift.
Hedlesky chewed through books on the sport, even turning to volumes from the 1950’s Soviet Union that he had translated into English.
“I went a little crazy, honestly,” he said. “Everything I could get my hands on, I read.”
Hedlesky was one of about 10 men on the USA World Championship Team to travel to Russia last year, earning a gold medal for his deadlift of 777 pounds. He hopes that a good showing at the National Championships in Aurora, Colo., in three months will earn him a spot on the team again.
Ultimately, Hedlesky’s goal is a combined 800-pound squat, 500-pound bench, and 900-pound deadlift, for a total of 2,200 pounds, he said.
“I just want to keep doing better,” he said. “My motive is to get to be one of the best people in the field.”
Hedlesky is a personal trainer at Power House gym and manager for althetic facilities at Salisbury University. He’s working toward a Ph.D. in physical therapy, which he hopes to practice locally.
Hedlesky is looking to start a weightlifting club in Ocean City, giving himself partners in the gym and motivating others to get involved.
Those interested should write him at email@example.com or call 301-318-1916.