79-year-old Local strongman wins world championship in weight-lifting
By Taylor J. Hale
Special to the Gazette
PLOVER — Local strongman Sig Sandstrom, 79, nearly brought home the World Association of Benchers mand Deadlifters (WABDL) world record for the bench press at the annual Las Vegas World Championship, held on Nov. 13.
However, Sandstrom won the world championship in the deadlift in his 75-79 age group, pulling 259 pounds. Judges disqualified Sandstrom due to technical movement errors during his record-attempting bench press set, but the bodybuilder from Plover is not discouraged.
“What’s ahead of me now is to go back to the Wisconsin Dells WABDL competition next April, and re-qualify for the finals in Las Vegas next year,” Sandstrom said. “In 2019, I also want to
enter the push-pull contest. So I hope to qualify for the bench press, deadlift and push-pull. Hopefully, then I will come home with three medals.”
The local powerlifter started his bodybuilding career 9-years ago at the local Anytime Fitness in Plover. He moved to the Portage County area in 1968 after receiving his bachelor’s and
master’s degrees from UW-Superior. He worked as a teacher and principal in the area for over 29 years, while simultaneously managing and renting real estate.
“Central Wisconsin is a great place to train. The people here are friendly, and it is a good place to work,” Sandstrom said.
Sandstrom competes in the 74-79 age bracket and feels he is easily holding his own. His current personal record for bench pressing is 275 pounds, which he achieved with his trainer in Florida, where he resides during cold Wisconsin winters. The panel disqualified him in Las Vegas while attempting a 259-pound lift. He feels that he could have handled the weight with improved concentration.
“I am at the area where I am close to being able to lift 300 pounds,” Sandstrom explained. “But there are around 200 people in the audience, and 500 other bodybuilders there competing. It gets distracting and a little nerve-racking,”
To Sandstrom, the disqualification is merely an obstacle to overcome. He plans to train, and get a second shot at the world record titles. His tenacity and devotedness are truly indicative of the passion he has for achieving his goals.
“So all in all, by next year I should be the strongest guy in the world at 79 years old in my bracket,” Sandstrom said proudly. “Not too bad for an old guy who has gone through a lot of ups
and downs in life.”
Sandstrom believes his deep desire to push himself stems from his harsh childhood, growing up in the small town of Drummond. His peers teased him for his size and even voted him “Most
Unlikely to Succeed” his senior year of high school, which had a graduating class of only 19 pupils.
“I think my time in school motivated me,” he said. “In the back of my head, I always thought, I am going to try and prove all of these people wrong.”
He has come a long way since his school days and has an immense amount of achievements under his belt. His fervid desire to grow his skills and body is seemingly boundless.
“I never give up, and I keep on keeping on,” he said.
He may not have brought home the win this year, but Sandstrom’s unbridled devotion to his dreams will push him back to Las Vegas for the WABDL World Championship. With his raw-power and experience, he feels that he has a good chance of winning in his categories.
Sandstrom is an embodiment of what disciplined effort and commitment can achieve.