GRANITE CITY — At a time when most elite athletes are thinking of retirement, Chris Janek, of Granite City, is thinking of world championships.
A former world powerlifting champion and still regarded as one of the best in the world, the 36-year-old Janek isn't ready to hang up his weights just yet.
Competing in the prestigious XPC Powerlifting Championships at the 2014 Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, Janek won the 308-pound title and the overall best lifter of the event which included many of the top powerlifters in the world.
"It's kind of like the Mecca of powerlifting competitions every year. There are athletes from the Ukraine, Canada, Great Britain, the United Kingdom. I would say there were maybe 100 to 120 lifters in all,'' Janek said. "It's a four-day event and there are weightlifting, body building, fencing and many other different types of activities that you can imagine. If you ever get a chance to go, it's a great experience."
The trip to Columbus also brought back good memories for Janek, who was a football and wrestling standout at Granite City High School before going on to play four years as a defensive lineman at the University of Wisconsin for the football Badgers.
Janek then went on to play in the Arena Football League, including a stop for the Columbus franchise.
But on this trip, Janek's attention was to prove once again that he is still among the top powerlifters in the world. But first, he had to lose a few pounds.
"I had to lose 12 pounds to be able to compete in the 308-pound division. I was kind of grumpy for a few days,'' Janek said, smiling. "It wasn't a big deal and my nutrionist Mark Schneider, who was my strength coach when I played football here (Columbus) was a big help to me."
Several friends and Janek's powerlifting coach Randy Presswood, of Granite City, also made the trip to Columbus.
Once there Janek was one of the stars of the competition. Janek squatted 1,100 pounds, had a top bench press of 785 pounds and had a dead lift of 840 pounds. His total of 2,725 pounds was 85 pounds more then his previous best of 2,725 pounds.
"I know this might sund crazy but I'm still kind of learning the powerlifting game,'' Janek said. "I didn't have my best meet. I think there I still more to come. Even though I did have personal records. I had to pull 840 on my last dead lift to win eveything ... overall best lifter and also win a pretty nice cash prize."
Janek also fulfilled a promise after winning the title.
"I promised everyone that was with me that I would buy them all dinner if I won the title,'' Janek said. "I couldn't believe how much it cost until I saw bill. It's the last time I offer to do that.''
Owner of Tanks Training Facility in Granite City, Janek works with and trains several high school, college and professional athletes as well as others.
Tanks will host the Southern Powerlifting Federation Midwest Raw Pro/Am on Saturday beginning at 8:30 a.m. Admission is $10. Children 12 and under will be admitted free.
As for his own powerlifting career, Janek said he has no plans to stop competing.
"They say that the top lifters reach their peak from age 35 to 40 and I read where a guy from South Carolina lifted over 3,000 pounds and he's 41,'' Janek said. "I think the best is yet to come. I've never had a serious injury and so as long as I'm healthy, I'm going to keep going for a while yet."
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or email@example.com