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Gainesville set for 'powerful' weekend
Local venues to host Georgia Games' powerlifting, power soccer
Trainer John Cooke spots John Collier, 18, a West Hall High School graduate, at the Iron Beast Barbell Gym Saturday in Gainesville. Collier is currently training, and will participate in the Georgia Games July 16. - photo by SARA GUEVARA | The Times

This weekend in Gainesville, two separate venues will host events of the 23rd Georgia Games — powerlifting and power soccer.
The IronBeast Barbell gym hosts the powerlifting competition from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The event will feature Special Olympian competitors and a guest appearance from former Mr. Olympia legend Lee Haney.

At the Jim Walters YMCA, three or four teams — including the Gainesville-based North Georgia Screamin’ Eagles — will compete from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday in the power soccer event.

At IronBeast, the event will kick off with Special Olympians, followed by more competitions in the squat, bench and deadlifts. Event coordinator Mike Kidd expects between 35-40 competitors at the event.

“This is an opportunity to support the Georgia Olympics and to be able to provide an opportunity for people who really enjoy lifting,” said Mike Kidd, who is also coach of the Gainesville-based powerlifting team Georgia Iron Dawgs, who will volunteer at the event.

“And it’s really a big thing to put on an event for the Special Olympians, and I’m glad we can be there for them and them getting the chance to be a part of it. I know it means a lot to them. We do a lot of meets all over the U.S., but to be able to work with Special Olympians is special for the Iron Dawgs team.”

The event is also a nice notch in the belt of competitors like John Collier, an employee at IronBeast. Collier, 18, recently graduated from West Hall and is competing in his third Georgia Games. In 2009, he finished first in his class in the bench press event.

“It’s a great event,” Collier said. “I love showing what I can do to my full potential. We work and train real hard, so to finally show what you can do is phenomenal.

“I do as many events as I can.”

Collier said he’s working toward becoming a professional bodybuilder, and he’ll have the opportunity to talk with one of the world’s best in Haney, who won a record eight Mr. Olympia titles in his career. Haney will be on hand to lend his support to competitors.

“Him, and Johnny Jackson are who I look up to the most,” Collier said.

The power soccer event will serve as the season finale for the Screamin’ Eagles, who wrapped up their United States Power Soccer Association play with a second-finish in the President’s Cup, a national tournament they hosted, which featured teams as far out as Oakland, Calif.

Though the Georgia Games aren’t a USPSA event, the Screamin’ Eagles will face an Atlanta Tigers team that also plays in the USPSA. Both teams will compete in the same Champions Cup division next season.

“This is a real fun event,” Screamin' Eagles co-founder and team member Justin Pressley said. “For the team, it’s another championship we can notch on our belt. We came in second last year and we’re looking forward to winning first place this year.”

Jerry Frick is the USPSA east coast regional director and coach of the Tigers, based out of Suwanee. He’s hoping the Georgia Games can serve to recruit more power soccer players.

“This gives the sport more exposure,” Frick said. “It lets people know this exists. It can change their lives to play in a team sport and travel.

“It’s a lot of fun.”

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