Powerlifting: Roberts makes strong return – Decatur lifter wins meet months after surgery

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, January 14, 2015
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In an instant, Rickey Roberts’ athletic career at Decatur appeared to end in August with a torn Achilles tendon.

“I was pulling and blocked a guy out,” Roberts recalls. “When I went to plant, I could feel something down my left leg. I thought I had strained my calf. I didn’t think it was anything serious until I couldn’t move my foot.”

But the strong-willed Roberts refused to let the injury be his final chapter for the Eagles. The senior made a triumphant return Saturday, winning his 275-pound weight class at Keller Timber Creek Powerlifting Meet.

Back as Strong as Ever

BACK AS STRONG AS EVER – After tearing his Achilles tendon in August, Decatur’s Rickey Roberts returned from the injury to win his first powerlifting meet Saturday in Keller. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Roberts lifted a total of 1,340 pounds with a squat of 500, bench press of 295 and deadlift of 545.

“It was a weird feeling and I didn’t know what to think,” Roberts said about his victory. “I was real excited. My dad was real excited.”

Decatur coach Scott Warner also was happy for the senior.

“For him to come back and do that is a cool story,” Warner said. “I’m proud of him. It was a bad deal losing him in the scrimmage in football.

“He told me he was going to powerlift and I thought he was crazy. I’m happy he has the opportunity to compete again.”

Roberts suffered a complete rupture of the Achilles tendon in August.

“It was like what you would see with a 45- to 60-year-old weekend warrior,” said Decatur trainer Fernando Escobar. “He had no function of the lower leg.”

Roberts underwent surgery a week after the injury. He stayed involved with the football team, watching from the sidelines and serving as a captain.

He also started an aggressive rehab schedule with his sights set on being able to lift competitively in the spring.

“I started physical therapy and was lifting about a month and half ago,” Roberts said. “I started squatting a couple of weeks ago. The doctor cleared me a week before the first powerlifting meet so it all worked out.”

Going into the first meet, Roberts didn’t know what to expect.

“Going to Keller, I knew it was a big meet with 5A and 6A schools,” Roberts said.

After his squat and bench press, he found himself 90 pounds behind Byron Nelson’s Justin Self with deadlift remaining.

Roberts went for broke jumping up to 545 on his last deadlift to pull even with Self.

At first, it appeared Roberts missed the lift as he dropped the weight. Judges then reversed the decision, putting him even with Self. Roberts took the title, weighing 14 pounds less than Self.

Roberts said the 1,340 was a good starting point to the season.

“I’m 55 pounds off where I left off last year,” he said. “But I’m pretty pumped. I got all my lifts easily.”

Warner also expects him to get better as the season continues.

“He has a lot of room to improve. As hard as he works, there’s no telling what he’ll do,” Warner said.

Roberts, who made it to regionals last year, has one goal – state.

“I want to cap it off with a medal at state,” he said.

He also isn’t looking back to what might have been. He’s grateful for the opportunity he has now and the doors that have been opened for him. After his injury and going through rehab, he’s decided to pursue a degree in radiological technology at Midwestern State University.

“It was tough, my last year to play football being taken away, but I found out where I wanted to go to college and what I want to do,” Roberts said.

“The timing was right for the injury. I knew no matter what, I was going to lift in powerlifting.”

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