Herbert, Horvath open Santiago 2023 with personal bests

by Heidi Ledermann

Jake Herbert competes in Para powerlifting.

SANTIAGO, CHILE – Team USA’s Jake Herbert (Indianapolis, Ind.) narrowly missed the podium on the opening day of Para Powerlifting competition for the Parapan American Games Santiago 2023, but there was still much to celebrate, as he tied his personal best lift while David Horvath (Linn, Mo.) set a new personal record in his first internationally-held event.

In his first lift of the day, Herbert put up 146 kg, proving that he was willing to fight for a medal, as he sat in third place after the first round of lifts concluded. Matching his personal best in a competition, Herbert pushed up 150kg in the second round of the bench press. He again finished the round in third place, just one kilogram shy of second place. In his third and final attempt, Herbert sought to lift 152 kg, but ultimately fell shy of that goal. Herbert finished the day in fourth place, one kilogram short of Peru’s Niel Garcia Trellis and two kilograms from Chile’s Javier Ignacio Jimenez Cabrera. El Salvador’s Herbert Aceituno took home both the gold medal and a new Parapan American record at 192 kg.

“I don’t like missing a lift that can put me potentially in a medal situation,” said Herbert. That bummed me out, but I feel good also, and that’s what matters.” Herbert said that while he was upset with himself for missing the podium, he already has plans in place to refocus and work towards continuing to make his family – those with him and those he has lost – proud. “I’m doing this for my dad,” said Herbert. “He passed away in 2021, and he never saw me make it to a Paralympics or even a Parapan American Games. I am pushing myself for my family and my parents who are not here with me anymore.”

As the youngest member of the team at only 23 years old, Horvath is still soaking up his first international Games experience. “It’s all super exciting, but it almost doesn’t feel real,” said Horvath. “It’s still sinking in, but I’m so blessed to be able to take part in this, and I have been having so much fun!”

His first time out of the country has proved to be a memorable one, as Horvath set a new personal best lift in today’s competition. He successfully lifted 132 kg in his first attempt before reaching his new record of 135 kg in his second attempt. His previous personal best of 133 kg was posted in the 2022 World Para Powerlifting Parapan American Open in St. Louis.

Horvath will have to wait until the next competition to break his new record, as he narrowly missed his last lift of 142 kg. However, Horvath said that he has been working for nine years towards his goals and will continue to push himself to get better with each competition.

 “What motivates me to lift that kind of weight is the love of it,” said Horvath. “I love working out and reminding myself that this is just me and the bar. This is just what I love to do.”

Competition continues tomorrow with Bobby Body competing in the Men’s up to 107 & Over 107 kg category at 5:05 p.m. local time. Follow U.S. Paralympics Powerlifting on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to catch all the action live from Santiago.

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