Victoria native breaks powerlifting world record
Sept. 19, 2013 at 4:19 a.m.
Preston Turner bombed out while competing in the bench press at his first meet for Memorial High School in ninth grade.
In 2007, the powerlifting newcomer attempted to bench-press 275 pounds on the first try.
When it turned out to be too heavy, there was no option to take off the weight, and Turner was disqualified.
But that was seven years ago.
This year, Turner broke the International Powerlifting Federation open world record and junior world record for bench press in Killeen.
The bar was set at 722 pounds. It was his third top win at the IPF World Games.
"It's funny to think that's how I started my powerlifting career," Turner said in a phone interview. "I've come a long way - that made me really hungry to work hard."
In 2010, Turner won gold at the state powerlifting competition while he was a senior at Memorial High School.
A few months later, he competed and came in first at the USA Powerlifting competition and finished the year by winning gold at his first international competition.
"I had no idea that I could compete at the world level at that time," Turner said. "I was approached by a USA World team coach who recruited me and told me that I unofficially broke a world record."
The 5-foot-11-inch, 260-pound teenager believed that his victory at the 2010 state competition would be his last powerlifting meet.
"I had plans to play college football at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton," he said. "(Being approached by an international scout) really changed everything for me; knowing that I could continue powerlifting - I still had a lot to do in the sport."
The decision to quit playing football wasn't an easy one, said Turner's father, Randy.
"I think he realized he didn't want to get hurt playing football," Randy Turner said. "He would tell me, 'When I walk on the football field, I'm just another football player.' As a powerlifter, he wanted to focus on becoming the best for his weight - he learned early on that he could outlift anyone he knew."
As a "chubby little kid" in Victoria, Turner said a newspaper article piqued his interest in powerlifting.
"I wanted to look like the guys in the Bowflex commercials," he said, laughing. "Powerlifting seems like so much fun; little did I know that I would go far beyond that."
Though he began lifting weights in middle school and powerlifting competitively in ninth grade, Turner said his focus was on football all during high school.
"I really wanted to get a Division I scholarship, but things didn't work like I imagined," he said. "The amount of work I put in toward football is what made the powerlifter I am today."
While at Memorial, Turner was a high-profile player at defensive tackle. But he always had more fun powerlifting.
"No one ever had to force me to get in the gym," he said. "Football is what I felt like I had to do to get my school paid for."
Now a junior at the University of Texas, Turner is working toward a degree in health promotion, a field which focuses on disease prevention through wellness techniques and health education.
Maintaining a powerlifter's physique isn't all cheeseburgers and french fries, but it's not all lean meats and vegetables either.
"I usually try to keep a clean diet; I don't want to totally blow up - I want to increase muscle."
Eggs, red meat, chicken and brown rice are mainstays of his diet. With a health-focused degree, he is able to take what he learns in class and apply it to his diet.
A well-maintained diet isn't the only disciplined aspect of his life, his dad said.
"He has always been a great kid. He was never a partier," Randy Turner said. "He's a great kid and a great adult."
After this last Worlds competition, Preston Turner said he has received much respect internationally.
"I've had Facebook friend requests from all over the world," he said. "Even people who weren't at the meet are sending me messages and congratulating me; a lot of people really respect what I did."
After taking a week off from training, which was like "pulling teeth," he said, Turner is back in the gym.
"I'm the most motivated after a meet; I can't wait to get back to work and get stronger," he said. "I took it off, and I'm already hitting hard - next year's world championship is going to be won right now."