By Scott Prater
As Tech. Sgt. Uriah Nomura loomed over more than a quarter ton of iron, a room full of his competitors waited in anticipation. After a few quick, deep breaths, he took a grip on the bar, bent his knees and struggled to pull 575 pounds off the floor.
A chorus of deafening shouts filled the air as he came close to clearing the weight, and with a final burst of energy he stood erect, the strain on his body evident through the expression on his face.
With a less than desirable performance in the Schriever Bench Press Competition held earlier in the day, Sergeant Nomura wanted to go beyond expectations in the Deadlift Competition to make up for his debacle.
In the end, he deadlifted 75 more pounds than 50th Space Wing Vice Commander Col. Kenneth Allison, but it wasn’t enough to earn a win in the competition. In a dominant show of strength, Colonel Allison deadlifted more than three times his own body weight to win in a landslide.
“I had heard how strong he is, so I wasn’t surprised that he was able to keep up with me,” said Sergeant Nomura of the 6th Space Operations Squadron. “I was curious to see how much he could push… he’s incredibly strong.”
At 154 pounds, Colonel Allison bench pressed 330 pounds to win that competition as well.
Scott Bartlett, a Schriever Fire Department captain, pushed 385 pounds to outlast Terrance Galloway, 50th Logistics Readiness Squadron, for the most actual weight cleared, but those two competitors weighed in at 245 and 238 lbs respectively.
Though there is a certain amount of pride that came with the accomplishment, Colonel Allison didn’t dwell on the result.
“These base-level competitions are great,” he said. “They give people an opportunity to compete in a non-threatening environment. You can go into the competition without being super nervous because you know it’s a real friendly competition.”
Fitness center administrators set up the competition to give the 24 power lifters a test at ever increasing weights. So if a lifter cleared a certain weight, he or she could move on incrementally to the next level. Each lifter was provided one opportunity to clear a weight and eliminated upon his or her first failure.
Fitness Center director Seth Cannello then figured the body-weight to weight-lifted ratio following the competition to decide the winner in each event.
Sergeant Nomura took runner-up honors in the deadlift competition with a 2.69 deadlift- to-body-weight ratio, while 6th SOPS 1st Lt. David Usilton earned second place in the bench press.
Colonel Allison’s description of a “friendly competition” event proved spot on. While participants competed against each other, they also encouraged and supported each other at the same time.
As a former competitive power lifter, he also saw this competition as a chance to provide helpful advice and tips to his fellow weight lifters. Between his lifts he would walk around and assist others with proper form and technique.
“I wanted them to do the best they possibly could do,” he said. “It doesn’t threaten me for them to do well, it encourages me for them to do well. Plus, I like that part of myself. Teaching is my post-Air-Force dream. That’s what I want to do in the long run, whether it’s in the gym or in a classroom scenario, I like the teaching aspect.”
It’s not often that Airmen get a chance to compete alongside and against their commanding officers. In this instance, participants also got a chance to see how results are derived from a solid work ethic in the gym.
“Hopefully they see that I put in the time and effort,” Colonel Allison said. “I work hard in the office and I work hard in the gym. The fitness part of me is willing to work just as hard as the career part. And… the Air Force is looking for that entire package. You need to be good in the office, you need to be physically fit and fit to fight. All of those things are important.”