Team USA closes Santiago competition with top five finish in mixed team
by Heidi Ledermann
SANTIAGO, CHILE – Team USA closed out the Para powerlifting competition the Parapan American Games Santiago 2023 with a top five showing in the mixed team event for a total of 198.4 points from Jake Herbert (Indianapolis, Indiana), Ashley Dyce (Colton, California) and Bobby Body (Eaton Rapids, Michigan).
Herbert was the first on the platform for Team USA. Following a tie of his personal best lift on Saturday, Herbert attempted 143 kg. Although he didn’t reach his lift goal, he did accomplish his goal of having a good time.
“It went fast and that’s what I love,” said Herbert. “I felt strong, and that is a great feeling. I loved it, and it was fun.”
Opposed to the events earlier this week where individual athletes had three attempts to lift the highest weight against others in their bodyweight classes, the mixed team event featured two men and one woman from each country of various bodyweight classes competing together for a combined score. Each athlete in the lineup was given one opportunity to lift for their team in the first round of heats.
“It was a great experience competing alongside all those great athletes on our team,” said Herbert of the mixed team event.
Body, who benched 205 kg, noted that the combined team event allowed for a unique opportunity for the results to reflect the teamwork that goes on behind the scenes for Team USA, mentioning that the team has been supporting each other throughout the Games – despite Para powerlifting usually being a solo sport.
“It’s an individual sport, but we support each other so much and we’re always fist-bumping each other, hugging each other, high-fiving each other, encouraging each other and supporting each other,” said Body. “It’s a true family, so it doesn’t matter if it is an individual sport or not, we support each other.”
After returning to competition yesterday for the first time in over a year, Dyce said that the team component helped give her the extra confidence to accomplish her lift of 100 kg.
“Having my teammates competing with me helped me to be more relaxed and just enjoy the moment,” said Dyce. “We feed off each other’s energy and just go out there and have fun and still compete at the highest level.”
Team standings were calculated at the end of the first round of heats and the top teams moved into the head-to-head competition. After an admirable showing from Team USA, they ultimately left the competition in fifth place.
Despite being knocked out in the first round, Team USA’s spirits were strong. The athletes noted that they are ready for some well-deserved rest at home after four back-to-back days of competition, which included a gold medal and Parapan American Games record from Bobby Body.
“I’m ready to go home,” said Body, “but I’m actually pretty proud of everything we’ve done, and the team event is always a fun time.”
“I’m glad that competition is coming to an end,” echoed Dyce. “I’m relieved that I’m done. I came and did what I wanted to do. But it’s also sad that I have to go home because I’ve enjoyed this experience. Being in the village and being here at the Parapan Games, it’s been an amazing and fun time.”
Body noted that while the team is still gaining international experience and building after injuries, Team USA has big plans to place higher in the mixed event in the next Paralympic cycle – culminating with the Paralympic Games Los Angeles 2028.
“The mixed event is not quite as serious for us at the moment,” said Body “but it will be in the next quad.”
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