- Associated Press - Monday, May 18, 2015

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) - As Liz Hubert steps on to the weightlifting platform, she claps her hands together and a small cloud of chalk shoots from between her palms.

In front of Hubert sits a bar with 200 pounds on it, almost twice her body weight and more than she has ever squatted before. Four large men loom over the wiry 120-pound 19-year-old as she steps under the bar and moves it off the rack, The Oklahoman (https://bit.ly/1AZYQEQ ) reported.

She gets her command and lowers herself slowly, the weight of the bar causing a small tremble in her thighs. As she gets to the bottom of her squat, she strains to stand up as the crowd circled around her falls silent for a brief moment.

The weight is too much, and the large men wearing Oklahoma State football shirts have to step in and usher the bar back to the rack.

The crowd’s reaction is subdued, until they see Hubert of Catoosa grinning with a look that says, “I almost had it.”

Cue the applause.

Shelley Gibson, Special Olympics coach for Catoosa, said Hubert’s upbeat attitude is an example of what the event is all about.

“Even if you don’t get the lift, if you did your best, that’s worth more than anything,” Gibson said.

Hubert is just one of about 5,000 athletes who competed in the 46th Summer Games this month in Stillwater.

Light rain fell on one of the competition days in Stillwater, but the weather wasn’t able to put a damper on the competitions. Ham said all the events scheduled for that daywent on as planned, though some had to switch venues.

“The athletes weren’t inconvenienced at all, and I think everyone had a good first day,” Ham said.

More than 60 athletes gathered in the bowels of Boone Pickens Stadium for the powerlifting competition. Teams and individual athletes from across the state competed in squat, bench press and dead lift.

Gibson, who is also a special education teacher, brought almost 20 students from Catoosa.

Oklahoma State strength and conditioning coach Rob Glass supervised the event along with some of his assistants and several football players. The men helped to spot, encourage and coach the athletes as they lifted.

Woody Bearden, who has been participating in Special Olympics for more than 40 years, coordinated the event and said he can’t thank Glass enough for helping out.

“He and his guys just do an awesome job, and it really makes this event great,” Bearden said.

Despite not quite finishing the 200-pound squat, Hubert won gold in squat, bench, dead lift and combination in her weight class.

Hubert is one of the best female powerlifters competing in 2015’s Special Olympics Oklahoma Summer Games, and she will be the only female powerlifter from Oklahoma to compete at the World Games in Los Angeles in July.

Hubert, who was nicknamed “Energizer Bunny” by her teammates, said she fell in love with powerlifting as soon as she tried it. She practices several times a week and was constantly coaching up and encouraging her teammates on Wednesday. She is also scheduled to compete in softball, volleyball, track and field and horseshoes while she’s in Stillwater.

Yulonda Mullins, Hubert’s mother, said she has been competing in the Special Olympics for 10 years and started powerlifting when she got into high school. She competed in the National Games last year in New Jersey and is ecstatic to be heading to Los Angeles this year.

“It’s been absolutely great for her,” Mullins said. “It’s helped her get rid of her shyness and become more outgoing.”

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Information from: The Oklahoman, https://www.newsok.com


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