Only the Strong Prevail: Landstuhl hosts powerlifting competition

by Airman 1st Class Scott Saldukas
Ramstein Public Affairs

Some of the strongest athletes in Europe will compete for the title of the 2009 U.S. Forces Europe Powerlifting champion at the Landstuhl Fitness Center Saturday.
The competition is open to all Department of Defense ID cardholders and is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., following weigh-ins and equipment check.

While some of the competitors might be new to the sport of powerlifting and not as knowledgeable in the competition scenarios as others, many athletes have a laundry list of awards and experience.

One of these athletes is Senior Master Sgt. Troy Saunders, U.S. Air Forces in Europe Logistics Readiness Directorate Command Vehicle Management superintendent.

His expertise was displayed during his recent performance at the 2009 Arnold Sports Festival Raw Championship (no equipment used) in Columbus, Ohio, March 6. He placed first in the 220-pound raw master class and second in the 220-pound raw open class.

In addition to his wins at the festival, Sergeant Saunders took three first place titles at the 2009 U.S. Military National Powerlifting Championship at Fort Hood, Texas. He also set six American raw records, eight military raw records and the Open Military Masters Deadlift record.

Needless to say, Sergeant Saunders has a lot of experience in the sport, but this will be his first time competing in the USAFE Powerlifting Championship.

“This year’s event is personally exciting for me,” Sergeant Saunders said. “I will be promoting raw lifting and lobbying to get it added to next year’s USFE Powerlifting Championships.”

This would open up competition from just a few specialty athletes to anyone who can bench, squat or deadlift, he said.

“It was easy to see why a lot of hardworking athletes avoided competitions when they had a disadvantage before walking in the door,” said the sergeant, who was also named the 2008 USAFE male athlete of the year. “With a raw class, this is no longer a concern and anyone can walk in the door and come out a winner.”

Though many may have different opinions about the sport, powerlifting competitions offer more than just muscle mass and a trophy.

“These events promote camaraderie, an unwavering dedication and show the ability to continually strive for better results,” said Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Celis, engineering craftsman with the 65th Civil Engineering Squadron from Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal. “They also provide us the ability to mentor younger lifters in all aspects of life and teach them the value of hard work. I’ve never witnessed a sport with as much camaraderie, or even more, a specific feeling of brotherhood than powerlifting.”

The engineering craftsman said powerlifting competitions are a good thing in the military communities because provides military athletes an avenue to showcase their hard work and dedication.

“Military events provide an opportunity for military members and dependents to step onto the competition platform and show the world what they are capable of,” Sergeant Saunders said. “Several outstanding USAFE lifters have broken numerous national, American and world records.”

Though the competition has been going on for years – it still promotes the same principles of sportsmanship and wholesome recreational activity, said Thomas Dennis, chief of sports and fitness at the Landstuhl fitness center.

Attendance to the event is free. For more information, call 493-2088, 0631-3406-2088 or visit