by Thom Van Vleck
Bill Leffler will be an unfamiliar name to USAWA members, but he is a member of the Jackson Weightlifting Club which is a USAWA club so I thought it might be of interest to some of you. Bill is involved in Scottish Highland Games and recently accomplished a pretty amazing feat. He not only won his 7th World Championships in 9 years (he was 2nd twice) he also won his 6th World’s in a 5 year age group! Let me explain.
In the world of Scottish Highland Games Masters you become a “master” at age 40. Most competitions have masters classes, but usually just 40 and over or maybe 40-49 and 50 and up. USAWA members such as myself, Dave Glasgow, Mike Murdock, Chad Ullom, and Dean Ross have all thrown as masters in highland games. Once a year, we have a World Championship. At that time, we break the age groups down into 5 year blocks (40-44, 45 – 49, 50-54, etc.). The meet is held at a different location every year (twice it has been in Inverness, Scotland) and the dates often vary. As a result, due to when Bill’s birthday is and the fact you are considered “that age” on the day of the meet Bill accomplished the feat of winning 6 World Championships in 5 years! His friends Mark Buchannan (who has the rare honor of beating Bill once….and losing losing to him a half dozen other times…sorry, Mark!) and Jim Spalding presented him with a specially engraved sword to honor his accomplishment. Next year Bill moves up to the 60-64 age group and there are no doubt going to be many records shattered and if Bill wants to keep going, more championships are sure to come his way!
Bill is an amazing athlete. During his run of Championships he has beaten all the best throwers over age 50 at on time or another. When he has lost, he comes back to beat whoever has beaten him! Recently, at the 2012 Master’s Worlds the greatest performances ever accomplished as measured by a formula were listed. The #1 all time for 50 and over was Bill! Not only that, only one other thrower has won more World’s and nobody else is even close. I would point out that this year there were over 100 throwers at the MWC…so it is well attended and competitive! That one thrower with more is none other than our training partner and one of the presenters of the sword….Jim Spalding…also a JWC member!
Bill is very humble regarding his talents. He doesn’t brag, he let’s his throwing speak for him. However, I have found him to be very driven and pushes himself very, very hard. He accepts no less than his best and rarely is he satisfied, he always wants to do better! Bill’s background is in track & field and he’s been throwing shot and discus for almost 50 years. It was in 2002 I got him to try the highland games and he’s been at it ever since! Bill is a great friend and I know I am a better thrower for having trained with him. Recently he gave me some credit for helping him, but really, he’s a one man wrecking crew on the field. I just pointed him in the right direction from time to time! I am hoping one of these days Bill will try the USAWA. His lifts are top notch and I know he would do well. But at heart, he’s a thrower and that’s why he lifts.
Congrats to JWC member Bill Leffler! The JWC is proud of you!!!