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Local powerlifter on comeback trail

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Ricardo Fitzpatrick has firstly set his sights on the Provincial Championship taking place later this year. After that he aims to take part in the National Championship taking place in 2023, then on to the African Championship in March 2023, and after that the World Championships in Sun City.

Local powerlifter, Ricardo Fitzpatrick, is set to make a comeback to powerlifting after a lengthy lay-off. Picture: Danie van der Lith

EVERYBODY loves a good comeback story.

You know, the kind of movie where the plot revolves around a character at his peak in his sport, pushing himself to his limits and achieving success. But then, after some heavy blows that life throws at him, he falls and stumbles to a point where giving up seems to be the only option.

Then at some point after seemingly giving up, he lifts his head, stands up, and regains the confidence and motivation to start afresh with what he knows he’s good at, and – in his return journey – he becomes the man he knew he was, achieving even more incredible things than before.

It’s the kind of movie that leaves even the audience motivated and inspired.

Now Kimberley has one of those phoenixes, rising to start his own comeback story.

Well-known Kimberlite, Ricardo Robert Fitzpatrick (41) is well known for his bench pressing capabilities. Fitzpatrick, while lying down, easily pushes 180kg straight upwards from his chest. Just think about that for a moment … that’s almost four bags of cement!

Picture: Facebook

As incredible as that is, one has to consider that he does this despite having his leg amputated above the knee when he was just two weeks old. But this never held him back.

Kimberley’s own paraplegic superman has won the South African para powerlifting championship 13 times, he’s won the SA Bench Press Championship (able body) three times, and won five International titles, while also achieving medals eight times for the South African team.

But then came the crisis.

All of Fitzpatrick’s upward momentum came to a sudden end roughly two years ago when life threw too many blows at one time for him to handle. Depression kicked in and everything he had built up and worked on through his sporting career came tumbling down in a heap.

According to Fitzpatrick, covid also put lots of pressure on him, making the intolerable situation he found himself in even worse. “Depression is not a nice thing to go through, it takes away all the joy you have in you,” he said.

He spoke to the DFA on Wednesday, saying that he knew he had to start somewhere because doing nothing just made it worse. “I slowly started building up my home gym during covid and started to train again,” Fitzpatrick said.

“The more I trained the more comfortable I started feeling. I slowly started to gain back the strength and that helped me overcome the depression I was battling with,” he added.

Fitzpatrick said that he only has 160kg of weight at his home to use, so he has to find more plates to stack on his bar. “I train about four times a week at home, but when I need more weights, I go to the Pirate’s Gym to train there,” he said.

But then something amazing happened. By exerting himself, doing something he is good at and something he enjoys, he realised that he is not just training to overcome depression, he has bigger things planned and he has set measurable targets for himself.

Fitzpatrick has firstly set his sights on the Provincial Championship taking place later this year. After that he aims to take part in the National Championship taking place in 2023, then on to the African Championship in March 2023, and after that the World Championships in Sun City.

“When I complete all of this, I hope to go to the African Para Powerlifting Championships in Egypt as well as the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports (IWAS) World Games in Portugal,” he said.

The IWAS World Games is a multi-sport competition for athletes with a disability, which is the forerunner of the Paralympic Games.

To qualify for this, Fitzpatrick needs to be able to press 155kg in the able body section and 130kg in the paralympic section. While being interviewed, Fitzpatrick demonstrated his ability and determination. He slowly warmed up starting with 50kg, moved up to 100kg, then 150kg and finally completed two reps of 180kg, so it’s pretty obvious that qualifying won’t be an issue.

Then, to add to his busy training schedule, he also mentioned that a local film company just completed filming a documentary about his return to powerlifting.

“I can’t say much regarding the documentary,” he said, “but it was shot over a month and is about me returning to powerlifting, they are currently busy with editing,” he added.

However, the challenges do not only come with Fitzpatrick having to lift weights. “There are several championships taking place in our country, so I will be able to budget for them,” he said. “But when the time comes to go overseas, financially it will be very difficult to raise funds for my dreams to become a reality.

“I would therefore like to invite anybody able and willing to donate, to follow my progress and if possible to help me achieve my goals of becoming a champion,” he added. Fitzpatrick can be contacted on 083 942 5821.

Ricardo Fitzpatrick bearing the flag for South Africa. Picture: Facebook

While watching Fitzpatrick train at the gym, I could see that he is determined to reach Egypt and Portugal, and later the Paralympics.

I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be great seeing a local Kimberlite representing the Northern Cape and South Africa at the Paralympics one day?”

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