Dave Edborg, a patrol major in Rochester Institute of Technology’s Public Safety Department, has been planning his first trip to Las Vegas for more than a year.
But he’s not lured to the poker tables or the bright lights of the strip. He’s competing Nov. 18 in the drug-free World Bench Press and Deadlift Championships.
“It’s something I’ve worked hard for,” said Edborg, 55.
About 450 people from around the world will compete in various age and weight classes, divisions and competitions. Edborg will enter the 198-pound class of the deadlift competition, in the police and law enforcement division in the master class for those 48 to 55 years old. His competition will be lifters from all over the world: Belgium, Germany, Poland and England.
In the deadlift competition, contestants don’t lift the bar above their head. Instead, they must lift it off the floor and stand erect until the judges approve.
The most weight lifted in a single lift in three tries wins. “I’ll try to get close to 500 pounds,” he said.
Lifting several hundred pounds would cause most people’s knees to buckle and give them a feeling that their blood vessels will burst.
“There’s a lot of grunting and groaning. It’s not a glamorous sport,” Edborg said. “I don’t feel anything. All I am focused on is having the bar move. But when I am done for the day, I feel it from head to toe.”
Edborg, who played baseball and basketball in Falconer High School in New York’s Chautauqua County, started lifting weights in 1982 while a student at RIT, where he graduated in 1984 with a degree in criminal justice. He competed in the Pennsylvania Police Olympics in 1987, winning first place in the 148-pound class, and finished fifth in Chicago at the National Police Olympics in the 165-pound class in 1988.
“To have a good lift when you’ve been working so hard, it’s a terrific sense of accomplishment,” he said. “You don’t have a team, it’s just you and the weight in front of you.”
After 1988, Edborg stopped lifting weights. He suffered some injuries and was busy with other diversions of life.
“Then three years ago, I started back up,” he said. To train for this competition, he lost 30 pounds. “I’ve learned to drink water, traded lunch for a protein shake and cut out late night snacks. And I’m always drug-free. There are no steroids happening, and never have been. There’s no substitute for hard work.”
Edborg trains four or five times a week in RIT’s Student Life Center, where he is encouraged by students.
“The students are inspiring. They are training with me, helping me,” he said.
And his brother, Tim Edborg, a former competitive powerlifter, will be accompanying him as “motivator and coach.”
But he credits his wife, Lisa, a former ballet instructor and current yoga enthusiast, as his biggest supporter.
“She taught me how to stretch properly so I don’t get injured,” he said. “It’s all about knowing your body. You’ve got to train smart. My bones don’t heal like they used to.”
He also found tremendous support from his coworkers at Public Safety and from RIT’s Finance and Administration department. “I couldn’t ask for better support,” he said.
If Edborg does well in the competition, he’ll receive “a trophy and a sense of accomplishment.”
But his real prize was in his training to enable him to enter the competition representing RIT, and losing enough weight to get into the 198-pound division.
“I don’t go into it thinking I’m going to win,” he said. “The only thing I can do is do my best and do my lift. The chips will fall where they will fall.”