Web Exclusives: Alumni Spotlight

December 17, 2003:

Photo: Arthur Whinston ’46 *47 completes a 170.7-pound attempt in the dead lift at the 2002 world championships.

Pumping up
Arthur Whinston ’46 *47 and his wife are world champion power lifters

When Arthur Whinston ’46 *47 returned for his 45th reunion, he injured his back while sleeping on a “saggy” bunk bed in a dormitory. Back home, his doctor recommended he start working out on weight-lifting machines. He did, his back improved, and 12 years later, he is the world power-lifting champion for his age group.

Whinston added free weights in the late ’90s and hooked up with a strength coach. He entered his first world power-lifting championship in 2001, winning the bench press (104.5 pounds) and the dead lift (165.2 pounds, then a world record) for men 75 to 79 years old, in the 148-pound class. The next year, he repeated as world champion. At his age and weight, there aren’t many competitors — usually no more than three other men. His athletic success, he says, “is less a reflection of me than it is the poor physical condition of most [men my age].”

Until his back injury, Whinston, who earned a B.S. and master’s in civil engineering and is a patent lawyer in Portland, Oregon, had been a distance runner, competing in masters meets. He gave up tennis and skiing after breaking his hip last January.

Whinston insists he’s simply following on the coattails of Melicent, his “super-jock” wife of 54 years. For her age group (75 to 79) and weight (132-pound class), she was the world champion in the bench press and dead lift last year, lifting 67 pounds and 143.2 pounds, respectively, both world records. She also has won many medals in masters track-and-field meets.

The Whinstons credit their vigorous lifestyle to healthy eating — they are vegans — and exercise. Both Whinstons hope to defend their titles at the world championships this month — though because of his hip injury, Arthur will compete only in the bench press. Besides helping to strengthen his back, weight lifting — and winning world championships — “gives you a big rush,” says Whinston.

By K.F.G.