American Masters Weightlifting Championship to take place at West Seneca East Senior High School

West Senca Chamber Ad

The sport of weightlifting has grown tremendously over the course of the last two years, with competitions going from under 100 participants to over 500 participants competing and showing off their strength.

“Weightlifting is the fastest growing sport right now,” shared Robby Dinero, owner of Athletes Unleashed, located at 3689 California Road in Orchard Park. “The face of fitness is changing. People are realizing they can do more later in life.”

Athletes ages 35 and up, known as master weightlifters, spend their time training in hopes of competing in the top four weightlifting championships around today – the World Masters Weightlifting Championship, Pan-American Masters Weightlifting Championship, National Masters Weightlifting Championship and American Masters Weightlifting Championship.

Noticing the talent Western New York has to offer as well as the great clubs and people who support the sport, Dinero flew out to California last year to attend the national championship and present a bid to host the 2016 American Masters Weightlifting Championship in Buffalo.

“I wanted to put Western New York on the map for weightlifting,” he said. “I presented my bid to the presidents of master weightlifting and a panel of senior weightlifters.”

Dinero was one of three in-person bidders competing against several online bidders, but he had the best offer and his bid was accepted.

The 2016 American Masters Weightlifting Championship will take place from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6 at West Seneca East Senior High School.

There will be several weight divisions and age groups represented throughout the weekend. The oldest age division – with athletes as old as 87 and 90 years – will kick off the competition on Friday, finishing with the youngest age division – 35 to 39 – on Sunday. Some of the over 250 athletes in attendance will be fresh off the Olympic circuit, and two of the female athletes train locally at Dinero’s gym.

First, second and third place medals will be handed out at the end of each age/weight group. The awards for grand champion, best overall male, best overall female and best lifter (from each age group) will be presented Sunday afternoon.

This is the first time in about 30 years the championship has been in Buffalo, and it’s the first time a local club will be hosting it. The event will also celebrate the four-year anniversary of Athletes Unleashed.

Holding the event in Western New York, Dinero wanted to use the opportunity as a way to promote his gym as well as several local businesses. Out-of-town competitors and guests will be staying at nearby hotels, Jeff Tutuska is designing banners and decals for lifting platforms, Park Avenue Imprints is creating apparel for the event and, as stated earlier, East Senior will play host.

East Principal Dr. Jon Cervoni was working out at Athletes Unleashed one day when Dinero was talking about holding the championship in Buffalo. The gym and the high school have had strong connections the past few years with students visiting Athletes Unleased on field trips and Dinero visiting the high school to share his stories about being a Marine for 14 years. The pair decided it would be a great experience to collaborate on the event and host it at the school.

“To hold an event like this you need a lot of volunteers,” Cervoni said, so he reached out to the school’s health and art departments looking for eager students and staff members. Students in the fitness trends and personal training classes will attend training sessions and work as weight changers throughout the competition. Art students will be creating platforms for the athletes to stand on while lifting the weights. The school’s football team will be in attendance as well, serving refreshments in the cafeteria.

“My custodial crew and technology department has been incredible,” Cervoni said with excitement. “We’re thankful [Robby is] giving our kids this real-world experience.”

All three days of the event are free and open to the public.

“It’s really exciting for weightlifters to be able to lift in front of a crowd,” said Dinero, who qualified and competed in the 2014 Pan-American Masters. “To be able to train for something and have a bunch of strangers out there cheering you on … it’s great to see these master weightlifters get recognized for their performance.”