, Gloucester, MA

January 18, 2013

Amazing feats of athleticism show body's capabilities

On the Mend
Joe DiVincenzo

---- — Do you think we’ll ever see the day that a man reaches the terminal limits of human capacity? A day where the fastest speed and the greatest strength are witnessed, never to be surpassed again? I, myself, do not.

Nor do most others if you ask them. At this point in time, it’s widely accepted that the athletes of tomorrow will be bigger, faster and stronger than the athletes of contemporary times. Training regimens and diet supplementation strategies will be more effective and the next generation of the strongmen will keep the records of today fixed steadily in their cross-hairs.

It’s not possible to compare and judge the records of different events — it’s like comparing apples and rib-eye steaks. But here are a few hand-picked selections, sure to boggle your mind. And if you really want a brain (or muscle) cramp, remember this: by the time this article reaches your hands, some of the information could be out-dated.

The world record in the bench press is 1,075 pounds. That’s more than a half-ton. Set in 2009 by Ryan Kennelly, that weight is capable of breaking the chest, arms and spine of the strongest man you’ve ever seen in “real life.” It’s probably best not to try and take Kenelly’s wallet in a dark alley — the 308-pounder might throw you over the building.

The days of triple-your-bodyweight are in. In one of the most impressive feats of strength in the 2012 Summer Olympics, North Korean weight lifter Om Yun Choi, who weighed 123 pounds, lifted 370 pounds above his head. To give you a scale, he weighs about 10 pounds less than Ellen Degeneres and could hoist the late John Candy over his head.

Since the invention of the phone, weight-lifters everywhere have been obsessed with destroying phone books. But none have been as successful as Michael Martin, who was able to rip through 67 books, consecutively, in ten minutes. And these were vertical tears, mind you — not horizontal or through the spine of the book. Let’s hope he’s into recycling.

The only non-metric event recognized by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the fastest mile of all time was completed in 3 minutes, 43 seconds. That’s like driving slightly slower than 20 mph in your car – for a whole mile. And as a reference, only a small handful of people in history have ever dropped below 3 minutes, 50 seconds.

You’ve always been told to be careful when lifting things off the ground. You should exercise extra caution when you’re lifting 1,117 pounds. More than two giant tractor-trailer tires, Zydrunas Savickus could very easily pick two motorcycles clear off their wheels.

Forever in pursuit of greatness, the question begs to be asked: wWill the drive to exceed the limits finally reach its peak? Perhaps one day it will, but it likely won’t be today — or tomorrow.

Gloucester resident Joe DiVincenzo is a physical therapist and clinical specialist in manual therapy. He writes “On the Mend” weekly. Questions may be submitted by email to