70-year-old Cassopolis resident breaks state powerlifting record

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, December 17, 2020

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CASSOPOLIS — When Cassopolis resident Jim Bronke entered the Michigan State Powerlift championship competition earlier this month, he did not expect to leave with anything other than a new personal best. Instead, he left with a new state record.

Bronke, 70, broke the state powerlifting record for squats in his age and weight category at a Dec. 5 competition. Bronke lifted 214.9 pounds.

“It’s very exciting,” Bronke said. “The weight was really not that heavy for a younger lifter, but for an older lifter, well … I was really excited about it.”

While Bronke has been lifting most of his life casually, it was not until recently that he began to take the sport seriously. He started sports performance training nearly two years ago at Beacon Health in Granger. In March, he was scheduled to take part in his first powerlifting competition, but the arrival of the COVID-19 virus not only canceled his competition but shut down his gym. During the shutdown, he fell off the path of training.

Despite this, Bronke still had a nonrefundable competition credit to use, so when he had the opportunity to compete in this month’s Michigan State Powerlifting championship, he knew he had to jump on it.

As the only competitor in his category that day, Bronke knew he would win his class. But he had no idea he would set a new state record.

“I was just going to wing it and do the best I can,” he said. “But, son of a gun, for the third lift on that squat, they announced I had beat a state record. I was like, ‘What?’ I was really surprised.”

Bronke’s experience at the powerlifting championship has inspired him to continue competing. His next competition will take place next March in Kalamazoo. Not only does he hope to beat his own record in the squat, but he also wants to win the records for deadlift and bench press for his age and weight range.

“It really makes you want to go back for more and beat more records,” he said. “When you start setting records, it kind of feeds on itself. It just becomes more fun.”

Already Bronke is working with trainers at Beacon Health to prepare for his next competition. He said he is grateful, at 70 years old, to have still a body that allows him to compete and that he is excited to continue to improve at his chosen sport.

“I envision myself even when I’m 80 doing this,” he said. “I’m going to keep doing this until my body says, ‘no more.’”