Powerlifter John C. Downing, coach of The Ohio State University powerlifting club level team, is going for a world record in his weight class at this year’s Arnold Sports Classic. Downing is 5’6 and 181 pounds. In his weight class, the record is 617 pounds for the squat, one of three weight-lifting moves in the sport of powerlifting. Thus, he’ll be attempting to lift more than three times his bodyweight.
  Competitive powerlifting is a global sport that has nine professional organizations, and is up for review by the Olympic committee to make it a medal sport. Competitors vie for first place by achieving the largest weight total possible for three separate lifts – the squat, bench press and deadlift (where the weight is on the ground and must be lifted to hip level).
  Downing has mostly trained six days a week, several hours a day, for the last 12 years to reach this level and be a relevant contender at the Arnold, which is considered one of the sport’s most prominent events. Last year he tied for third place. This year he wants to break the record and take first place.
  “I’m going to feel like a million bucks in front of the home crowd,” he said. “(The Ohio State University powerlifting team) runs the spotting and loading for the Arnold, which is great because I’m going to be spotted by people I know. So that’s just a whole ‘nother comfort zone.”
  He says his competition window for the Arnold is roughly four hours. Compared to the amount of time he has spent training, this small time frame must seem microscopic. Powerlifting also has precise moves that must be executed correctly, as three judges scrutinize for disqualifying movements.
  Because he has to be at his best during such a small window of opportunity, this is when his mental training has to kick in.
  “Mentally, I just make sure I have the skill set,” he said. “Make sure that I know the movement so that it’s something I don’t even have to think about. I just work the skill so hard that it just becomes second nature.”
  Yet, like many top-level athletes who compete at the Arnold, Downing also has a career. He teaches American Government for Kenton Ridge High School in Springfield. He says teaching is a simple passion for him – he just loves to give back, to both lifting and high-schoolers, or anyone willing to learn, for that matter.
  “I have a deep desire to teach in a way that makes students engaged and love to learn. To especially learn about history, a subject they normally do not enjoy,” he said. “Teaching high-schoolers these days is a constant battle of fighting for attention. With so many outside-the-classroom influences and information at your fingertips, teaching is all about keeping kids engaged.”
  Because the Arnold is so important to Downing, it’s only natural for him to emulate the event’s namesake.
  “Arnold Schwarzenegger himself started out powerliftng at a young age,” he says. “The effort Arnold put into his career, whether it be body building or getting into politics. He never did anything halfway, he was always two feet in. Throwing everything I have into the passions I have, whether it be teaching or lifting.”     
  Downing goes for the world record and first place on Friday (March 6th) at 2 pm at the Columbus Convention Center Ballroom 150.