Local lifter poised to break world record
BRECKENRIDGE – For Gip Duggan, lifting weights began as a way to get healthy. Then that latent football mentality began to seep into the equation. Now, the Wildernest resident is one lift away from an age-class world record in the bench press.
In April, he will travel to Prague, Czech Republic – along with Breckenridge Recreation Center trainer and U.S. Team assistant coach Chris Hughes – for the world championships of powerlifting. There he hopes to lift 470 pounds, which would likely be good for the over-60-years-old world record, currently standing at 446.
“I’ve already done 446, so I got a real good chance of breaking it,” Duggan said. “The goal is to get the gold medal. That’ll be the first thing, because that’s team points. And my (last) lift will be to go for the world record. I’m looking for, like, 465, 470.”
Duggan and Hughes went to the world championships last year in Texas, where Duggan was denied a chance to break the world record because of a technicality. A communication breakdown between Duggan and the judges caused him to miss the final lift of the day, the lift on which he would have attempted the record.
The memory of that lost opportunity still angers – and motivates – him.
“I was steamed,” Duggan recalled. “It ain’t gonna happen this time. Chris knows it, and we learned a good lesson – to stay on top of it.”
Duggan played professional football as a center in the NFL for four years. When he reached his mid-50s, he was out of shape and overweight.
“I was eating too much pasta and drinking too much wine,” he said. “I was like a blob front moving in.”
He began lifting and quickly met Hughes, who still competes as a lifter himself. A professional trainer with a love for the sport, Hughes saw a lot of potential in Duggan and volunteered to help him in the weight room.
“I don’t think we’re going to be anywhere near his potential until he benches about 500 pounds,” Hughes said. “He’s built for this sport – big barrel chest, short arms, super-strong.”
Hughes was excited enough about Duggan that he began devoting his free time to help the lifter become world class.
“I’ve done tons of competitions myself, and you have to give back to the sport to help it grow,” Hughes said. “So whenever you get a chance to volunteer and give your time back, that’s what we do.”
Early in Duggan’s weightlifting career, at a pre-competition physical, doctors detected a heart problem and recommended bypass surgery. Duggan had three arteries replaced.
When he returned after the surgery, he set his sights on testing himself against the best 40-and-over lifters in the world. When you grow up playing football in Oklahoma, that desire to win never fully goes away.
“When I was playing ball you always had a goal,” Duggan explained. “And if you’re goal oriented, it gives you a reason to come in and lift and compete. And competition is real healthy for you. The by-product of me competing is having a healthy, strong body.”
Duggan will be one of the youngest competitors in the 60-plus category, a division for which he’s eligible even though he turns 60 on July 2. His age should give him an advantage, but if he lifts what he and Hughes think he can, he won’t need any help.
“We’ve taken him from 300 pounds when we met, and he’s now hitting 446,” said Hughes, who has worked with Duggan since 1997. “He still has a lot more potential. Gip should break (the record) this year.”
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