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72-yr-old man in Japan powering up to break own bench press world record

Takeshi Shirakawa poses for a photo after training at his home in Mitoyo, Kagawa Prefecture, on March 13, 2021. (Mainichi/Satoshi Kawahara)

MITOYO, Kagawa -- A 72-year-old man in this western Japanese city has been training hard to break his own bench press world record.

    Takeshi Shirakawa of this city's Takumacho district, who holds the bench press world record in the 59-kilogram class of the masters 4 category (ages 70 to 79), was awarded a special prize by the Mitoyo Municipal Government in February. He is currently training at home trying to break his own masters record by pressing 122 kg.

    Shirakawa's barn is packed with items including a handmade bench press set, training equipment and dumbbells, and he has been training for about 1 1/2 hours a day. He gradually adds weight to a barbell bar, going from 70 kg to 90 kg, then to 110 kg, and slowly lifts it concentrating intensely. He says bashfully, "I want to be a model for young people."

    Measuring 160 centimeters tall, the diminutive Shirakawa had never been into sports in his student years. He started to work out at a gym when he was 20, inspired by a muscular person he saw on the local beach, and took part in bodybuilding competitions. He began bench pressing at age 24, teaching himself the technique, and his personal record is 165 kg. He won the 60 kg class in the world bench press championships in both 1992 and 1993.

    Takeshi Shirakawa easily presses 110 kg in Mitoyo, Kagawa Prefecture, on March 13, 2021. (Mainichi/Satoshi Kawahara)

    Shirakawa took a break from competition for about 10 years to care for his parents. But he resumed training seriously after the age of 60, and set a world record in the masters 59 kg class at the world bench press championships in 2019 -- held in Chiba Prefecture -- with a 121.5 kg lift.

    The septuagenarian declares himself a lifelong athlete, saying, "I'll become an elderly person who lifts 100 kg easily even at age 80." He is currently training for a national competition to be held in Hyogo Prefecture on March 28.

    (Japanese original by Satoshi Kawahara, Takamatsu Bureau)

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