ROANOKE, Va. – Weightlifting is generally thought of as a lifestyle or a means by which to stay healthy. But for Donald Jackson, it's a sport.
The10-year resident of Roanoke was first introduced to it while doing CrossFit six years ago.
"Once I found out it was its own individual sport, I was, like, let me take some time away to see how it feels to see if I like it or whatnot. So I did that and I loved it", said Jackson.
For the past three years, he has made his focus. It's something he says takes as much mental toughness as it does physical strength.
Jackson said, "Your body can do it. You've trained. You've prepared. You've put yourself in a position to do that. It's your mind you have to convince."
When he started out, he was barely able to squat 135 pounds but now Jackson has a max snatch of 301 pounds and a max clean and jerk of 352 pounds. These numbers inspired him and as of January, he registered and qualified for the 2017 World Masters Games. The Olympics-style style event happens every four years and features more than 20 sports.
Jackson says it's an honor to be part of an international event.
"Being able to represent the country and sport is literally a dream come true. It's something that I've always wanted to do," he said.
Jackson trains at Brickhouse CrossFit in Roanoke. Co-owner Amanda Forrester said, "Giving them a space to be able to do this and represent their sport and what they love at a world level is amazing. But I can't take any credit. It's all Donald and his doing and his hard training."
This year's games will be in New Zealand and as Jackson prepares to leave on Friday, he now knows that you never can set the bar too high.
"Whenever you do something, if you can just do the best you can do, you can possibly do at it, you never know where that will take you. You know, that's kind of the idea," he said.
In support of his trip to New Zealand, Jackson has set up a GoFundMe account to which you can contribute if you'd like.