July 21, 2016 (Richmond, VA) On June 11, 2016, Christian Largo was named to the United States Paralympic Powerlifting Team. Largo, 17, has been a Sportable athlete for over 10 years. He has tried almost every sport offered by Sportable, from Power wheelchair soccer, to rowing. He is also a member of the 2016 Spokes Championship Team. His passion, although, lies in Powerlifting.
Largo first became interested in power lifting about three years ago when he started training with Dave and Caitlin Brown of Samaritans Walk in Ashland, VA. Brown initially started his gym, the Ashland Athletic Club, for able-bodied adults looking to get in shape. After discovering adaptive weightlifting, Caitlin and Dave immediately became intrigued with the idea of training athletes with physical disabilities, and started Samaritans Walk. Samaritans Walk is largely based off of the training and techniques of Project Walk, an “activity based recovery center” out of Carlsbad, CA.
Largo commented, “I was first introduced to the bench press at Ashland Athletic Club. Dave was curious about what I could bench because he believed I was strong with the other exercises I was doing. At about that same time Sportable announced that they were hosting the Mid-Atlantic Games that spring and one of the events was going to be powerlifting. Dave, my mom and I all studied para powerlifting and watched videos on YouTube to learn all about it and we started training for the Games. I knew going into the games that if I lifted a certain weight I would then go on to Junior Nationals that summer in Ames, IA. The day that I competed in the Mid-Atlantic Games was when I knew I loved para powerlifting and I knew that I wanted to compete and be a part of this sport for a long time.”
Now, The Browns train many individuals with physical disabilities, but none like Christian. Largo trains twice a week at Samaritans Walk and twice a week at his high school, Trinity Episcopal School. Since his powerlifting career started, Caitlin and Dave have been spotting Christian. Dave Brown even constructed a special bench that Christian can lay on while he lifts. “We didn’t put much thought into him competing at first, but once we found out that his strength was in benching, we started to add more and more weight,” commented Caitlin Brown.
In order to become a member of the U.S Paralympic Power Lifting team, Christian had to lift 264 lbs. for his 65 kg weight class at the Endeavor Games this past June in Edmond, Ocklahoma. His first successful lift was 253lbs. Then, after shaking off some of the nerves, he was able to put up 264lbs, then 286lbs. Christian’s coach at Trinity, Adam Banwarth, commented, “Christian has such a no nonsense attitude and internal motivation about him. There is absolutely no complaining from him in anything we do. He does what needs to be done to get better and then moves on.”
Even though Largo made this team, this does not mean that he gets a free pass to compete in Rio this upcoming September. In order to compete in the Paralympic Games, you must be top eight in your weight class. This is Largo’s ultimate goal- to get to Tokyo in 2020. Until then, he will go to his first training camp in January and his first international competition in Mexico in April. Additionally, now that he is a senior this year at Trinity, another one of his goals is to break the weightlifting record at Trinity of 306 lbs.