PORTSMOUTH — A regular part of Dele Atoro’s lifestyle is to train, train and stay in the best shape possible, but he never thought it would lead to national powerlifting competitions.
Atoro, 33, who was an athlete in high school, plays in a local rugby league. His newfound passion began last year, when he achieved a personal bench press goal of 315 pounds. He was thrilled, and the milestone was also impressive for one of his friends who saw Atoro’s post about it on social media.
“It was an amazing milestone, and I posted about it just to be like it was something I had been working on,” he said. “And that’s when my friend talked about powerlifting.”
Atoro will travel to the United States Powerlifting Association National Championships July 7-9 in Las Vegas. This will be his fourth powerlifting competition since August 2021, when he competed in his first USPA event.
“Be true to your passions”:Portsmouth woman never gave up on trip from Paraguay to Miss NH USA
How Atoro grew as a competitor
Atoro achieved that 315lb goal at the end of 2020 at Seacoast Sports Club in Portsmouth.
When his friend suggested he participate, he said, “I was like, ‘Sure, I’ll look.'”
“I just thought it would be a cool thing to try,” Atoro added. “Going to my first meeting in August, it was just a different environment, it was something I didn’t expect and it was just cool to see so many other people turning weight into movement into a escape for all they had, or whatever the adversity they were going through and made it into a competitive sport.”
Atoro’s first meeting was on August 14, 2021 in Manchester at the Greater Boston/New Hampshire Championships, where he competed in the bench press.
Bench press competition is slightly different from regular reps. Competitors hold the bar to their chest until the official gives the command to press, and Atoro hit 286 pounds, which qualified him for nationals and set the state record for the male weight class of 165 lbs.
Seacoast news and sports:Download the Seacoastonline mobile app to stay connected
Atoro said that after watching other athletes compete in the Full Power competition, which combines the bench press, squat and deadlift, he decided to expand his areas of competition.
Atoro took part in two other events in February and April of this year.
In the February meet, Atoro squatted 330 pounds and improved his bench to 292 and deadlift to 457 pounds. The number of deadlifts surprised him.
“I was shocked, I didn’t know I could lift so much,” he said. “I was training and training all winter in the gym, and I had hit 405 in the gym.”
Health and wellbeing:When Exercise Hurts Your Back Instead of Helping It
Atoro said his deadlift would have been a state record, but he did not tell officials he intended to attempt a state record, which is required.
“That’s when I said, ‘OK, I really want to make my third encounter and I kind of want this to be set and in the record books,'” Atoro said.
Pursue higher goals
At the April meet, in Portland, Maine, Atoro bumped his squat up to 347 pounds and attempted to do a bench press 297 but couldn’t make it, so his personal best went down. rises to 292.
Atoro said he shocked again in the deadlift when he reached 479 pounds, qualifying him for the national level deadlift.
Atoro has another goal in mind that he wants to achieve.
“My goal is to have 300 officially in the record books and I’m still chasing that right now, just because the bench press is different,” he said. “It’s about pausing on your chest and then listening for the command rather than the standard touch and go that you would do on your own at the gym.”