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Men of iron keeping records in the family

Blackmon, Pardue pile up weightlifting honors

Posted: December 7, 2010 11:50 a.m.
Updated: December 8, 2010 5:00 a.m.
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ROGER PARDUE AND HIS uncle Ron Blackmon (right) have made a habit of returning home from weightlifting championships with trophies such as these which they earned in Gatlinburg, Tenn. on Nov. 13.

Even world record-holders need someone to push them to along in their quest to be the best they can be.

For weight lifter and retired North Central High School head football coach Ron Blackmon, he did not have to look long --- nor far --- to find that person to help get him back into the swing of competitive lifting.

Thanks in part to training with his nephew, Roger Pardue, Blackmon set a new world record in his age (60-64) group with a bench press of 470 pounds at a Southern Powerlifting Association event held in Gatlinburg, Tenn. last month. And the records did not stop there as Pardue also eclipsed state marks in the three different disciplines for his age (45-49) division.

In his two years away from the football sidelines, Blackmon has piled up state and world records, with more worlds left to conquer. He gives credit to two men.

"Roger inspired me to do this again. He’s helped me out and has coached me along. I give him credit for that," Blackmon said of the influence his nephew had on his getting back into competitive lifting.

"I’m a blessed person just to be able to lift weights and for that," he added, "I give all the praise and glory to Lord Jesus Christ for giving me the ability to lift weights because, at least, my bones are holding together and I’m still able to do it."

Together, the two men took to shattering records in Gatlinburg. While Blackmon set a new association world record in the bench press, shattering the old mark in his age group by 130 pounds. Pardue, meanwhile, established new South Carolina standards in the squat (800 pounds), bench press (475) and in the dead lift (580) for a total of 1,855 pounds.

"I hit it right in the squat," Pardue said of a competition in which you are given three attempts to lift the weight. "In the bench press, I hit 450, after missing it the first time when I hit the upright. There are three judges watching you, so you have to do it right. Then I hit 475. Two days later, I went back to my bench at home and let somebody watch, like in a contest, and I did 510."

His squat was the most Pardue had ever lifted in his life since he began lifting weights in the late 1970s. Still, he said, he felt he could have and should have done better in Gatlinburg. In fact, he proved that two himself when he returned home to Heath Springs.

"I felt that I left something out there on the platform because two days later, I benched 510," he said. "Then I went and pulled 600 (in the dead lift) four days later. But those didn’t count; I did a 1,910 (pounds) total."

In the 1970s and early 1980s, Pardue said he benched 430 pounds, squatted 755 in 1989 and dead lifted 670 pounds. He laughed when talking about how those numbers have gotten better with age.

"You’re supposed to squat 800 when you’re 20 or 30 (years old), not when you’re 49," he said. "If I had the equipment on back then like I wear now, it would have been different. "Everything is more up-to-date now than it was, even things like knee wraps. Our squat suits are better. Everything is tighter.

"The equipment is so much better now that it helps you a good bit. Plus, we train with these big chains like this and those big rubber bands that they have now; I’ve never used them before," he continued.

"I do a lot of core work that I never did before. They say that when you’re squatting, the pressure is all on your back and that core holds it. I never did that kind of core work until now. We never knew these kinds of things back then. I guess you learn as things change."

For Blackmon, setting national and world records is getting to be commonplace for the former gridiron boss who joins as many associations as possible in order to test himself against records set in his weight and age divisions.

"There are a lot of associations out there and I’ve made it a mission to try and join every association that I can," he said. "This is my thing, now. This is what I do. It’s not like I fish, hunt or play golf, a whole lot … and I’m not very good at those things anyway. This is what I enjoy doing. We just go to different places and see what happens.

"The Southern Powerlifting Federation was another opportunity to try and set a world record. I had a good day and I was blessed to do that."

Heading up to Gatlinburg, Blackmon said he had a number which he wanted to hit in the back of his mind: He wanted to bench press 500 pounds. He said straying from his original plan of attack led to his inability to reach his goal that day.

"In the training part of it," he said, "I cycled up to a point and I had numbers written down. I wanted to do 500 (pounds.) I tried and missed it. I thought I could have gotten it, but I didn’t stick to my game plan. I was going to try and do 460, then 480 and then, 500. But, I dropped down to 440, then to 470 and then to 500. I probably would have pushed 490 or somewhere close to that, but it was a lock–out thing …. I was that close to locking out.

"If I would have stayed with my game plan, I may have had a shot at 500 pounds because there was a little left in the tank at 470. But a 30-pound jump is a lot and it took its toll on me, a little bit. I just didn’t make it."

Blackmon has lifted 500 pounds before in his competitive career, that came nearly 30 years ago in an event in 1981. "It’s been that long since I’ve had that kind of weight (500 pounds) in my hands," he smiled when talking about the 500-pound mark.

Both men have circled a pair of events on their calendars in which they look to shatter more records. For Blackmon, he is scheduled to return to action next month in a statewide event in which he hopes to try for the 500-pound mark. This time, he said, he will try a different strategy.

"I’m going to start a little higher," he said. "I want to start at 465, then got to 485 and then try 500 again … with the good Lord willing."

Pardue said he will try and give the world records of 830-pound for squat, 520 pounds in the bench press and 620 pounds in the dead lift in his age and weight group a go at an April competition in Asheville, N.C. Like his uncle, he is hoping that he stays injury-free through then in his quest to put his name in the record books.

Make no mistake about it, though, as much as the two men enjoy what they are doing, there is plenty of pain and sacrifice associated with their hobby.

"It’s harder now because I’m older," Pardue said with a smile. "But, it’s like riding a bicycle; you know what to do, you just have to go out there and do it. But, I’ll tell you, that Sunday (after the Gatlinburg competition), it felt like a truck hit me. On November the 14th, I was sore.

"But it’s fun. Now, we do it for fun. It costs you money because you have to pay to enter the competitions, but you do it for recreation or, you don’t do it at all."

And Blackmon, who operates the Carolina Fitness gym in Dusty Bend, where the two men work out, is enjoying what has become a second career after coaching both football and track.

"It’s a fun thing to do and I’m really enjoying this," he said with a wide grin when talking about lifting and going for world records. "As long as I can hold it together and stay together, at my age, I’ll make another attempt at it."

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