When Robert Arroyo jerked 313 pounds over his head, he walked off the platform with the glow that comes from setting a new Pan American Masters Weightlifting Championship record. That glow lasted only about 10 minutes, long enough for the next competitor to step to the platform Sunday at the Westin Chicago Northwest hotel in Itasca.
But the morning's glory was still within Arroyo's grasp.
The masters competitors are at least 35 years old and competed in two events. Arroyo had already set the record for the snatch at 253.5 pounds. The snatch is a wide-grip, ground-to-overhead lift that features a nearly seamless transition from pulling a weighted barbell from the ground, dipping to a squat, and catching the weight overhead, with arms extended, then standing up while keeping the weight locked out overhead. Arroyo set the record for the 187-pound weight class for the snatch early Sunday morning.
He wasn't done. To win his weight class, he would have to post the best total between the snatch and a second lift called the clean and jerk. That lift involves pulling a weighted barbell from the floor while dipping and squatting underneath to catch the barbell in front of the shoulders, just above the collarbone region. The lifter then front squats the weight up, composes himself, then jerks the weight overhead by pressing the bar up with his arms while dipping his body underneath, catching the bar overhead and standing up straight while keeping the bar locked out overhead. Arroyo, a soldier from Washington state who represented the United States at the competition, decided to try for the record in his weight class at the event and succeeded at 313 pounds.
But backstage, Nicaraguan Jorge Reyes saw a chance to best Arroyo.
Just 10 minutes after Arroyo won the applause of a small crowd of about 60 people for his record lift, Reyes stepped up to the platform with 315 pounds on the bar. He cleared it to quickly erase Arroyo from the record book. But Arroyo had one more chance to come back on Reyes.
He loaded the bar with 321.8 pounds. And as the crowd cheered on the red, white and blue-garbed Arroyo, he broke the record for the clean and jerk for the second and final time. The total weight of the snatch and clean and jerk lifts combined was also a Pan Am Masters Weightlifting record, giving him three records in one day.
As Arroyo dropped the bar from his final clean and jerk, he pumped his right fist three times and howled.
"Yes, yes, yes!" Arroyo said to the cheering crowd.
The victory was his to close out the morning competition.
Full results from the three-day competition will be posted at mastersweightlifting.org