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Mark Carter top of the world

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Mark Carter, age 43, recently said he feels like he is on the top of the mountain.

Such a statement could be construed as odd coming from a member of an age group that stereotypically feels as though it's over the hill -- or at least on the downward slope.

Carter, one of the founders of the Rush Fitness Complex, has good reason to feel so elevated -- there are not many individuals who can say that they have broken two weightlifting records in the last five months.

The real icing on the cake is that Carter is a late starter as far as competitive weightlifting. He won his first competition in January in Pittsburgh. The 43-year-old ``rookie'' was triumphant in both the masters and open divisions in the 220-pound weight class. He set an American Powerlifting Federation world record with 600 pounds.

Carter's second world record was set at the Masters National Championships in Daytona, Fla., held May 9-11.

Carter injured his shoulder in the warm-up area before the competition but decided to continue despite the discomfort. It was a good move on his part -- Carter broke the masters World Bench-pressing Congress record with a 556-pound opening lift. The former record was 551.

Many lifters would have been satisfied with breaking such a record but Carter was determined to lift more than 600 pounds.

``I blasted 606 pounds off my chest in the second lift,'' Carter said. ``I turned it back into the rack and got a foul. Powerlifting is very strict. You don't rack the weight until the officials tell you to.''

Carter opened up the third set with another 606-pound lift. The moment was ruined when the officials at the event decided that Carter had lifted his lower body up too high and gave him a foul.

``It was inexperience on my part,'' Carter said. ``I'm still learning. I was really disappointed but there were people there who were telling me that I shouldn't feel that way. They reminded me that I just walked away with a WBC world record and I should feel good about that.''

On March 7, 2000, Carter wasn't feeling good about anything. He was too busy recovering from what should have been a routine surgery that suddenly turned into a struggle of a lifetime.

``My fourth knee operation was necessary due to a work related injury,'' said Carter. ``I went for the procedure and the next thing I know, I'm in ICU

``I had what the doctors call severe anaphylactic shock. My heart stopped during surgery and the doctors rushed feverishly to get me back. They finally brought me back with a shot of adrenaline.

``You wouldn't have recognized me after that. My wife came in to see me in ICU and saw that I was blown up to (mass proportions). I was swelled up from the waist up. For the next two years my life would be turned upside down.''

Carter was eventually released by his doctors and was told to ease his way back into weightlifting. Carter said he didn't know if he would ever get back in the shape he was before the layover in the hospital.

Carter, a former University of Cincinnati fullback, met up with former University of Tennessee quarterback Heath Shuler and began working out with him.

Carter said Shuler is an incredible competitor. If Carter did 10 repititons, Shuler would follow up with 11. It was this competitive atmosphere that Carter believes not only whipped him back into shape but also helped him surpass his previous conditioning. Shuler admitted that the work outs were intense.

``I was just getting back into (the groove) of working out,'' Shuler said about his exercising regiments with Carter. ``We pushed each other back and forth. It was hard for me to be competitive with him. I've never seen anybody as strong as he is on the bench press.

``Mark is amazing. Our lives would be so much richer if everyone took their physical fitness as seriously as he does.''

Carter contends that he is breaking the traditional weightlifting mold.

``There were a lot of powerlifters in Daytona who were shocked to find out that I worked out in a fitness facility as opposed to a powerlifting gym,'' said Carter. ``Powerlifting gyms are like dungeons, filled with rusty weights. Those are hard-core gyms.

``I can do powerlifting movements by using equipment from a fitness facility. I'm trying to show people that they can powerlift and work out at a conventional gym like the Rush.''

Carter believes his life is just starting after age 40. He contributes all of his success to exercise.

``In today's modern times, I think more people are becoming knowledgeable to the benefits of exercise,'' said Carter. ``I feel like I'm in my late 20s -- I feel that good. People can do a 360 in life after 40 but you have to have the drive, discipline, devotion, determination, desire and dedication. It's what I call the six Ds.''

Carter will try to break another weightlifting record during an exhibition at the 2003 Knox Bodybuilding Figure Classic. The event will be held June 28 at 6:30 p.m.

On the national circuit, Carter will compete in the open national championships in Universal City, Calif., set to be held June 7-9, and in the Bench America competition in Chicago. Bench America will be televised July 5 on Fox Sports Net.

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