Three Abington-area powerlifters recently earned medals at world championship events in Tokyo, Japan.
Steve Mann earned a silver medal and placed seventh in his two competitions, while his son, Jacob, finished third in his weight class to earn a bronze medal at the International Powerlifting Federation World Men’s Equipped Bench Press Championships.
Meanwhile, Claude Welcome, the powerlifting coach at Abington Heights High School, placed fourth overall in his division at the World Men’s Classic Bench Press Championships.
Welcome, 68, won the Masters III division (60-69 years of age) at the 105 kilogram (231 pounds) class with a best lift of 145 kilograms (320 pounds).
Stanislaw Mentel from Poland, successfully pressed 192.5 kilograms (424 pounds) and won the gold medal at the world championships.
Welcome’s lift established the Pennsylvania State Raw record, breaking the old mark of 142.5 kilograms (314 pounds) set in 2018 by Jim McKenna.
It was a successful trip for the longtime lifter, who moved up a weight class at the meet. He finished second at the Bench Press National Championships in September with a lift of 142.5 kilograms (314 pounds) in the 93 kilogram class.
In Tokyo, he filled a void in the United States lineup at 105 kilograms while weighing in at 94.42 kilograms (208 pounds). Welcome was the lightest competitor in the class with Mental, the winner, weighing in at 220 pounds.
“I knew going up in weight class that I had to get a break and get a little lucky to finish in third place,” Welcome said. “I can’t be disappointed with fourth place being up a weight class.
“You are giving up 20-30 pounds to guys, so I knew I didn’t have a legitimate shot at the gold. I did a little research and I thought I had a shot at third.”
Welcome founded and has coached the Abington Heights powerlifting program since 1989. He has introduced and guided lifters Steve Mann, Dalton LaCoe and Bodie LaCoe, who are all world champions, and numerous other established athletes in the sport, including his daughter Amy Welcome Devine, who is now an assistant coach.
This spring, Welcome had three Comets powerlifters finish in the top three of their respective divisions and weight classes.
Bodie LaCoe won a title, Gianna Sabatini, 15, placed second in the 52 kilogram class and Rachel Klein, 16, who competed in the 47 kilogram class (104 pounds), finished third overall at the USA Powerlifting High School National Championships in Alexandria, Louisiana.
In the early 1970s, Welcome took up powerlifting while a student at Marietta College and was a national champion at 198 pounds. He has continued to compete, and in his 60s, was the gold-medal lifter in the Masters III Division at the World Men’s Raw Bench Press Championships at Potchefstroom, South Africa in 2016.
“It’s something I have a love for,” Welcome said about the sport. “It keeps me in tune with what the kids are going through. You know what they feel as a competitor and, sometimes, some coaches lose contact with what is going through a kid’s mind.
“I love lifting. I have done it through college and I still do it and will keep doing it as long as I can.”
Competing in the Masters I division and the 120 kilogram (264 pounds) class, Steve Mann finished second in the event.
The 43-year-old national champion from Ransom Twp., pressed 297.5 kilograms (656 pounds) in the first of his two competitions at the event. It came on his second attempt, and his third, at a weight of 312.5 kilograms (689 pounds) failed, but would have won the competition.
Ruslan Pavlikov, from Russia, pressed 310.0 kilograms (683 pounds) on his first try and that held up against Mann. He failed on two straight attempts at 317.5 kilograms (700 pounds), which would have challenged his mark of 705 pounds he hit at the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic in March.
“I didn’t have the day I wanted or was hoping for,” Mann said in a Facebook message from Japan. “I pride myself on consistency, but this was far from that. Even so, I was near lockout on my third attempt for gold over (Pavlikov).”
Mann also competed in the Open Division in the Super Heavyweight class (+264 pounds) and finished seventh overall. He pressed 300 kilograms (661 pounds) on his final attempt.
American Jonathan Leo, of South Dakota, won the class with a lift of 385 kilograms (849 pounds).
Jacob Mann, 15, a junior high student at Abington Heights, finished third in the Sub-Juniors 66 kilogram (145 pounds) class and had successful lifts on all three attempts, pressing 67.5 kilograms (149 pounds), 75 kilograms (165 pounds) and finally 80 kilograms (176 pounds). That eclipsed his national championship lift of 60 kilograms (132 pounds).
Vladislav Morozov, of Kazakhstan, won the gold with a lift of 160 kilograms (353 pounds). Mansur Rassulov, also from Kazakhstan, was second at 145 kilograms (320 pounds).
“I was really happy about hitting all three lifts, which gave me a 20 kilogram personal record,” Jacob said. “This experience on the trip overall was amazing.”
Contact the writer: