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Getting a lift from competition

At the age of 5, Nick Sinardi began losing his eyesight to the disease Relinpigmentosa. He could have simply felt sorry for himself and become a lifetime couch potato except for one thing. Sinardi is a fighter.

He found a way to fight back in power lifting and in the Florida State Championships in June the 46-year-old 5-foot-8{, 190-pounder set two world records for the blind.

His 520-pound squat and 575-pound dead lift also set records for Florida Masters Men ages 45-49.

His feat earned him a berth in the World Blind Power Lifting Championships Oct. 19-22 at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

"So far 20 countries have qualifiers set to be there, including Russia, Canada, Bulgaria and England," Sinardi said. "I'm really looking forward to the competition."

In 1977, Sinardi, then 28, met Joe Campbell, now manager of Bally's Gym in North Tampa. Campbell encouraged Sinardi to start lifting.

"It was a time when I realized my eyesight was really failing and I needed something and someone to motivate me to do something," Sinardi said. "Joe said I didn't need to see to lift. I only needed friends to help guide me to the weights, help set my grip and make sure my feet were set right. It has given me a lot of self confidence and the more I do, the more desire I have to do more."

Sinardi has not lost total use of his eyes. He says he still can distinguish blurry shapes and objects.

"Some people lose everything to do with sight, but at least I can see some blurs," he said. "Thanks to powerlifting, I have goals to achieve, plus I have a social life. I train five days a week about two hours a day and always meet new friends.

"Without my time working out, I go crazy. It is like a job for me to go to each day, a major part of my life."

Sinardi trains three days a week with Campbell at Bally's and another two days as part of a power lifting team that trains at 5 Guys Power Club in North Tampa.

He has won many trophies and medals in the past 18 years, but he said the two most significant recognitions he has been given were the Amateur of The Year Award by the Sports Authority in Tampa and the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame Award also in Tampa.

"Lifting is 90 percent in the mind and 10 percent strength," Sinardi said. "The dead lift is my best event by far. "If I am within 100 pounds of opponents in my division going into the last event (the dead lift) I know I have a good chance to win. Few other lifters excel in the dead lift. Although I set the age group and world blind record with 575 pounds, my best in practice is 585 and my dream goal is 625."

Campbell organized and sponsored the state championships. He organizes several meets through each year.

James Jacobs, also of Tampa, won the best lifter of the state meet award.

Competing in the 220-pound division, Jacobs recorded a squat lift of 740 pounds, a bench press of 490 and a dead lift of 700 for a total of 1930, the highest total lift of the meet.

Other Tampa winners included Virgil Diaz in the 181-pound division and Jeff Eiring at 242 both in open competition.

In limited competition, Kelly Williams won at 220 and John Sykes won for age group 50-54. Both are from Brandon.