Zephyrhills weightlifter has Olympic dreams
ZEPHYRHILLS - Twice a day, no matter whether it's 100 degrees outside, Brad Bouthot can be found in the garage behind his home. For most people, it would be a place to park the lawnmower and then leave quickly, headed for air-conditioned comfort. For Bouthot, it is a weightlifting training center – and a place to dream. Bouthot, 21, a 2007 Zephyrhills High School graduate, placed second this month among about 100 competitors at the Sunshine State Games in Lakeland. He lifted a combined 605 pounds in two lifts, ranking him 25th in the nation for his weight, 207 pounds."I expected to win, but I came up a little bit short," he said. "In the bigger picture, I still ranked high nationally, so it didn't really matter." With that performance under his belt, Bouthot's sights are set on a national collegiate championship and then, he hopes, the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. "That might be a possibility," he said. Bouthot has known a good deal of weightlifting success. He was an All Sunshine Athletic Conference weightlifter as a junior and senior at Zephyrhills High. As a senior, he also was an All State qualifier. Getting to the Olympics, of course, will be a lot tougher than anything he's so far accomplished. Bouthot works for Best Buy, building pallets and "lifting heavy things." He will start this fall at Florida Southern College, pursuing a bachelor's in human movement and performance. With those demands on his schedule, he will be even more pressed for workout time. "Just maintaining the schedule is hard. In between workouts you have to get in all your meals. And you have a girlfriend, so you don't want to completely ignore her." Then again, nothing about the sport has been easy. It was difficult to find a weightlifting coach, so Bouthot had to teach himself the "snatch," a type of lift that involves a deep squat. Then there's the diet. His pantry is full of rice cakes and brown rice, the kind of foods that keep his body primed but certainly don't tempt the tastebuds. Still, despite the grueling schedule and the bland meals, Bouthot keeps lifting. He likes the skill involved and the explosive movement it takes to move a hulking barbell from the floor to the air. "That's what distinguishes you from every other meathead you see at the gym," he said. He hopes next year to break into the top 10 in his weight class. His next competition may be the USA Weightlifting State Championship later this year; he's in training mode regardless. "I need to get stronger than I am currently," he said. His mother is constantly inspired by her son's desire to improve. "I'm really proud of his self-motivation," said Katrina Bouthot, director of administrative services for the city of Zephyrhills. It's that personal drive that sets Bouthot apart from other athletes, said his strength and conditioning coach, Eric Auciello. Unlike in team sports, Bouthot doesn't have peers urging him to train and improve. He has to provide that encouragement on his own – and he does. "It's rare to find someone with that level of commitment," Auciello said. "He's a real talented athlete and he's really committed to training. I think the sky's the limit as far as what he can accomplish."
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