Bad day can’t lessen Borges’ love for lifting

April 25, 2009 

SARASOTA

Ryan Borges carries the disappointment of missing two lifts.

They were two lifts that could have made the pint-sized weightlifter a School Age Pan American Weight Lifting champion.

It was 2007 in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Borges — a two-time winner of the tournament — missed two lifts in the clean-and-jerk event, which resulted in the 5-foot-tall, 135-pound Borges losing the title by six kilograms (about 13 pounds).

He still won a silver medal, though.

His nerves got the best of him.

“Honestly, that was the first time I had real competition with me that was my age and lifting about the same amount of weight as me,” Borges said. “I knew ahead of time it was going to be close.”

The setback has Borges prepared for his upcoming meet next month at the World Youth Championships in Thailand. He is one of only eight youths from the United States to be selected by the USA Weight Lifting Association. Borges will max out at 118 kilos in the clean and jerk and 94 kilos in the snatch competition. In the snatch, a lifter takes the bar from the floor to over the head in one motion.

“I just need to focus on me,” Borges said. “I’m excited to represent the country. (Opponents) will try to play mind games. They’ll scream at you or do jumping jacks on the platform right in front of you. It’s just different things (weightlifters) do to try and throw you off.”

Ryan’s dad, Rui, ignited the interest to pump weights in the 16-year-old Braden River High junior. Borges was 10 when he started attending a local Gold’s Gym with his dad. He did only squats and dead lifts. Most 10-year-olds aren’t making their way to a fitness club three times a week. Instead, they are planted in front of a computer, playing video games or texting their friends from a new and improved cell phone.

Borges was dead-set on becoming a weightlifter.

A gym employee noticed Borges’ work ethic and introduced the youngster to Rich Lansky, owner of Team Florida Weight Lifting @ Optimum Performance Training in Sarasota. Lansky is a former world class bodybuilder and strength and conditioning coach.

OPT was in an old, metal warehouse at the time with no air conditioning and only a few fans.

“I loved it,” Borges said. “My dad thought I was crazy. When we got back in the car he asked me, ‘Do you want to do this?’, and I said, ‘Yeah, I want to do this.’ Ever since, I just fell in love with it, wanting it more and more. ”

Lansky noticed a special quality in Borges.

“He is dedicated beyond his years,” Lansky said. “He spends about five or six days a week in the gym. Whatever I ask him to do, he does it. He is humble, and he’s very mature.”

Most importantly, Borges didn’t let a mistake stymie his affection for the sport.

“That just pushed me a little bit more,” he said. “I really didn’t want to give up like that. When I’m training it always motivates me.”

Ryan T. Boyd, sports writer, can be reached at 745-7017.

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