Raymond Santos’ curiosity for the Olympic sport of weightlifting earned him victories in two regional competitions.
Santos, in an email to the Saipan Tribune, said that seeing one of his friends while working out in a gym sparked his interest in weightlifting.
“I started with this sport back in 2013 when I saw a good friend of mine do types of lift [similar to weightlifting] at Gold’s Gym. I tried it out and immediately fell in love with the sport,” added Santos of GetFit CNMI.
In a short span, the 24-year-old managed to win medals in the men’s 62kg division of last year’s Micronesian Games in Pohnpei and recently in the Micronesia Weightlifting Invitational organized by the Guam Weightlifting Federation.
He ruled the same weight division in last Saturday’s event held at the The Jungle inside the Father Duenas Memorial School in Mangilao then added the overall crown to his growing collection.
Santos, who weighed 61.20kg in the tournament, had lifts of 100kg in the snatch, and 120kg in the clean and jerk for a 220kg total. He had a final tally of 321.154kg based on the Sinclair method.
Last year, Santos, a special education teacher aid at Koblerville Elementary School, went home with three silver medals from the Pohnpei Micro Games between the gold and bronze medals each of the Marshall Islands’ Peter Enoch and Switon Batin Jr.
He said that he trained for more than three months even after Saipan was still reeling from the onslaught brought by Typhoon Soudelor in August.
“My lifting partners were Joe Jucutan and Dave Barnhouse, who came up with a weightlifting program that I followed for a month. Then I tried to follow a Russian weightlifting program for the remaining months until the competition,” added Santos.
He said that he wasn’t expecting to win as he knew that he would be facing tougher and more seasoned opponents. “Because Guam lifters were strong and lifted heavy during the competition.”
“Weight wise I was more prepared in the Micro Games. As for strength and training, I was more prepared for the Guam tournament,” added the Northern Marianas College education student with focus on rehabilitation and human services.
Santos said he enjoyed competing against the Guam lifters and he now plans to join next year’s Oceania Weightlifting Championship, which is an Olympic qualifying event for the Rio de Janeiro Games next year, to be held in Fiji.
“I get to meet new people and make new friends. I found the Guam weightlifters intimidating since I follow some of them on Instagram and I know they are strong. I’m going to try to join the 2016 Oceania championships but we’ll see on the availability of the funds.”
He is also hoping that the CNMI’s weightlifting federation would get organized before the Oceania event so they could help him with his plan.