Mike Burns' colleagues kiddingly refer to him as “the most powerful man in polyethylene.” Now the resin market analyst has a gold medal to prove it.
Burns won gold May 16 at the IPF World Bench Press Championships in Potchefstroom, South Africa. He was part of a U.S. National team that took silver in his age group at the event.
On his final lift for the win, Burns bench-pressed 386 pounds to finish ahead of number one-ranked Nakazawa Tadafumi of Japan in the 205-pound class. The lift was close to Burns' career-best competition lift of 391 pounds. He said he's recently lifted 405 pounds while training, and was prepared to compete at that weight to win.
Burns said he benefited by having Tadafumi lift ahead of him, so he knew what weight he had to beat. Burns has been a competitive weightlifter for 33 years, including teams in high school and college. He initially competed in all-around events but has focused his efforts on bench pressing since the early 2000s.
The event was the first “raw” championship hosted by the International Powerlifting Federation. Competitors weren't allowed to use equipment such as bench compression shirts to help them make their lifts. The U.S. men's team finished second to Japan in the 50-59 age group and won the overall gold medal for the event championship.
“Our organization president told me this was the highest award we can have,” Burns said. “To beat a Japanese weightlifter is a big deal. And it was a great experience meeting weightlifters from more than 20 different countries.”
Burns, 50, is vice president of PE markets for Fort Worth, Texas-based Resin Technology Inc. He works from his home in Apple Valley, Minn. Burns joined RTI in 2002 after working 12 years for resin distributor H. Muehlstein & Co.