“He had the whole gym cheering for him…‘Luke! Luke! Luke! Luke! It was just amazing,” said Jeff Leohner proudly reflecting on his son Luke’s hefty achievements at the Special Olympics Wisconsin (SOWI) State Summer Games.
Loud and excited fans packed the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s Quandt Gym on Saturday, June 8 to watch powerlifters, like 32 year old Luke Leohner from Menomonie, push their limits. The crowd went wild as Luke, who has been involved in SOWI for 11 years lifted 450 pounds in the deadlift! (Click here to watch Luke in action).
“I felt a tear running down my cheek,” said Jeff earnestly, reflecting on the shared joy he had for his son that day. “[The fans] just idolized Luke.”
Luke earned gold medals in not only the dead lift, but also the bench press, squat lift and overall powerlifting combination in his division. Collectively, he lifted a jaw-dropping 1,080 pounds in all of his events.
“I felt like a winner,” he said, excitedly sharing that the favorite part of his weekend was hearing the encouraging shouts from fans in the stands.
He may be a gold medalist, but for Luke, Special Olympics Wisconsin is about so much more than competition.
“It is my life,” he said, explaining that Special Olympics Wisconsin improved his confidence and encouraged him to apply for a job at Anytime Fitness Gym four years ago where he now has weekly sweat sessions with his trainer.
Now that the State Summer Games is over, Luke is ready for his next challenge.
“We’re hoping to go to Nationals [at the 2014 USA Games],” said Jeff.
Congratulations to all the nearly 2,000 athletes who competed in powerlifting, aquatics, athletics, and soccer at the 2013 SOWI State Summer Games June 6-8! Click here for the entire list of results and visit Flickr to view photos from the event. Thank you to all the more than 600 volunteers and 650 coaches who made this event possible.
Stay tuned for more information about the State Outdoor Sports Tournament which will host bocce, softball, tee ball, golf and tennis at Carroll University in Waukesha on August 3-4, 2013.