Two years ago may have spelt the end of Odell Manuel’s powerlifting career when he ruptured his quad muscle on the way to becoming the strongest man in Australia.
However, last weekend the Queenslander took to the lifting stage at his first competition in two years, the Arnold Classic in Melbourne, and crushed the Australian all-time best to prove that his career was far from over.
With redemption on his mind, Manuel lifted a 440kg squat and a 405kg deadlift to beat out both of the previous Australian records by 5kg, and managed a bench press of 245kg. That put him at a total of 1,090kg, 12.5kg above the previous all-time best and hence worthy of the title of the strongest man in Australia.
The powerlifting champion subverted even his own expectations, as he was aiming for 1,080kg coming into the day.
Previously, Manuel had been the consecutive champion for five years up until he attended a convention in Western Australia for fans to hear about his story and watch him train.
“I was just supposed to do a couple of squats,” Manuel stated as he remembered the fateful day.
The Rockhampton power lifter was demonstrating a 340kg squat when all of a sudden a tendon in his quadriceps ruptured.
“I was trying to teach people how to squat and I fell on my face.”
The injury was so serious that Manuel immediately sought out surgery. The doctors informed him that it would be one and a half years before a full recovery.
However the Queenslander was hungry to get back into the swing of things. As early as three months from the operation, Manuel was back in the gym pulling weights without the doctor’s knowledge.
“I didn’t tell them what I was doing.”
In under a year he was already lifting weights of 400kg+ again. During this year, Alex Simon pulled a weight of 1,077.5kg to take the title of Australia’s strongest man away from him.
It was clear that it was as much of a mental battle as well as a physical battle, as he stressed daily about his muscles tearing from something as simple as even walking up the stairs.
Manuel said that even in the spotlight on the lifting plate last weekend that the mental stresses almost got to him, but melted away once he managed to push up the weight.
“I pushed it up and it was good.”
Manuel’s record-setting performance would taste bittersweet after two years of endurance and patience.