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Having just missed his opportunity to set a new United States Powerlifting Association squat record in the ages 13-15 category, Hunt High junior Elijah Robbins wasn’t about to depart without etching his name in the annals — in some form.
Competing Aug. 24 at the North Carolina State Championship in Raleigh, Robbins approached the deadlift platform for his fourth and final attempt at breaking the USPA ages 13-15 deadlift record. While Robbins had attempted three previous efforts, he was allowed a fourth attempt in the pursuit of breaking the national record.
Indeed, it paid off.
In less than 33 seconds, Robbins strode to the mat and stared down his lift of 421.1 pounds.
Getting encouragement from his father, Phillip, who implored him to “leave nothing and take everything,” Robbins bent his knees once and took several deep breaths. His facial expression indicated the exertion of maximum effort.
Once Robbins “locked out” the deadlift by straightening his knees, the few required seconds ticked by before he was allowed to return the massive weight to the ground. But he did, and in the split second it took for the judges for verify a proper lift, the celebration began.
Robbins had set a new ages 13-15 USPA Full-Power RAW Powerlifting record in the deadlift, culminating a nine-month training odyssey to reach the threshold.
“It’s pretty awesome, just because my name will be in a record book,” Robbins said in a telephone interview Friday. “And anybody that looks at that will see that. I’ll always have that title and that certificate. Even if it’s broken in the future, I’ll still be able to say I broke it.”
Also a baseball player and member of the National Honor Society at Hunt, Robbins picked up deadlifting 15 months ago. He added a personal best in the bench press of 187 pounds, but was competing against himself in the ages 13-15 division in Raleigh. In the squat, Robbins has cleared 315 pounds in the squat, but that figure is still shy of Keegan Gaddy’s three-year-old record at 341.71. Gaddy also holds the USPA bench record in the age group at 242.51 pounds.
Robbins took a crack at 343 pounds in the squat to break that record prior to succeeding in the deadlift, but was not credited with a proper lift.
The deadlift shattered Robbins’ previous competitive best in the event, which was 363.8. However, in the gym training setting, Robbins has cleared 410 pounds.
The disparity between competitive and training bests can be attributed to the fact that three judges officiate competitive lifts. Two out of three judges must agree on a proper lift for it to be scored. While competitors are given 60 seconds to complete the attempt, Robbins, on his record-breaking effort, went from mat to lift in just 14 seconds.
The record came after completing competition in the squat and bench press, per traditional powerlifting rules.
“My mindset was, I have to do this,” Robbins said of his approach. “Because I failed the squat record. I kind of wanted that one, but my main focus was the deadlift. So if I didn’t get one, I really wanted the deadlift one. That’s my favorite lift.”
The local response was swift, even from strangers who caught a glimpse of the record-breaking attempt on video.
“I’ve had a ton of people congratulate me that I didn’t even know,” Robbins said. “But they just saw the video, and they congratulated me about it. And that was really awesome.”