LATHAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Christopher Hughes founded the ABC Spartan powerlifting team five years ago. He never imagined the impact it would have on his life and others, like Albany’s Tommy Mooney.
“I’ve said it 100 times, you can line up 100 people with or without intellectual disabilities and you’ll find one Tom Mooney,” said Hughes.
36-year old Tommy Mooney picked up powerlifting five years ago. “I powerlift because I want to be strong and be healthy,” said Mooney.
“When Tommy came in he was 70 pounds heavier than he is now,” said Hughes. “He’s lost 70 pounds since starting with us.”
Tommy didn’t just find a place to get in shape, he found a home with his ABC Spartan team. “My coaches are my family to me,” said Mooney. “They support me. They cheer me on.”
Hughes, who also serves as a coach with Team New York Powerlifting, and the rest of the coaches cheered Tommy all the way to Orlando last week to compete in the Special Olympics, with one goal in mind: bring home the gold.
In powerlifting, the athlete with the most weight lifted, combining the squat, bench and deadlift, wins the overall gold. Tommy found himself in a back and forth battle. With one deadlift to go, he’d need to pull a weight he’d never pulled before: 292 pounds. Tommy got some motivation from his coach before the big moment. “He said, ‘Tommy, you can do it. Don’t give up.’ I will always do my best. “
Tommy set his new personal record, becoming the overall gold medal champ. “I’ve been involved in powerlifting, I’ve competed on some very big stages,” said Hughes. “That was by far the greatest deadlift I’ve ever seen in my life. The most emotional pull I’ve ever seen.”
“It feels like a dream come true,” said Tommy. “When I was there doing my best. I have the gold right here on my neck.”
It was an emotional moment for both Tommy and Chris. “I was crying tears and sweat,” said Tommy. “I was getting emotional. He was getting emotional with me.”
“I was in tears on the platform because I knew what it meant to him to win that gold medal,” said Hughes. “He’s wanted that for so long.”
So where does Tommy go from here? He’s hoping the World Games in Berlin. “I want to go to worlds and to win the gold one more time.”