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Powerlifting: Like a fine wine

August 18, 2001

Steve Virgen

Art La Bare is 40 years old. And that's a good thing.

In most sports, the Costa Mesa resident would be well past his playing

days. But in powerlifting he is in his prime.

La Bare, who is 5-foot-10, 267 pounds and can squat 878 pounds and

bench press 578, took second and won $5,000 at the World Powerlifting

Oranization's World Championships in Orlando, Fla. Sunday.

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"Powerlifting is a unique sport," La Bare said. "It's not neccessarily

an age thing. It takes a long time to build muscle. It takes a long time

to build up the tendons to make the lifts possible. Age seems to help you

in a certain way. I think it's an advantage. I hope I can do this until

I'm 50."

At the World Championships, La Bare settled for an 822-pound squat. He

actually pumped 878, but failed to officially qualify because lifters are

required to complete the weightlift twice.

La Bare benched 578 pounds, a personal best, and grabbed 744 in the

dead lift. He competed in the 275-pound weight class facing a field of

12, which dwindled as weight increased. The competition began at 2:30

p.m. and ended at 2:30 a.m.

"It was almost like the last guy standing wins," La Bare said. "I

don't think (the length of the competition) affected me as much as it did

other people. I'm used to working long hours. I'm a dry wall contractor."

The second-place finish qualified La Bare for the Arnold Classic, a

powerlifting meet in Columbus, Ohio created by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Also, in June, La Bare took second in the Mountaineer Cup, a meet in

West Virginia where he won $2,000.

"There was no weight classes in that one," La Bare said. "Whoever was

the strongest just took the money. You have guys who weighed over 300

pounds. When you go to the meets for money, usually it's just the top

lifters that go."

"Would I say I'm one of the best?" La Bare asked. "I'm definitely one

of the top 10 in the world in my weight class."

His confidence, again, comes from his experience. Age is his biggest

muscle. For, with each passing day, La Bare builds more strength and

increases his passion for the sport.

"For me, to be the best is what drives me," La Bare said. "When

there's only one or two people better than you, you kind of get that

feeling that you're the best. It's just the challenge of being the best

at one particular thing. To see how far you can push it. To get at a

level that hardly anyone touches."

La Bare, who is originally from Huntington Beach, usually works out in

his friend Manuel Sanchez's garage in Fountain Valley. In November, La

Bare will compete in the WPO Finals in Miami.

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