Persistence results in 81 gold medals

81-year-old’s goal to stay fit leads to powerlifting prowess


Eighty-one is a lot in most instances, especially when it comes to one’s age or the number of gold medals won, and for David Parsons, he checks both of those boxes.

Parsons recently won his 81st gold medal in powerlifting and did so at the Florida Senior Games, which is a competition for people older than 50 years old, on Dec. 11.

However, what makes the achievement even more unique is that he did not start weight training until he was about 30 years old.

“My dad introduced me to Olympic lifting and taught me basic lifts as a kid, but I learned them out of curiosity and never really committed to doing much with it for years.”

Then, years later he decided to put his focus into finding a way to get exercise and get fit, and he remembered the techniques his dad had taught him, and he started working out in his basement while living in Massachusetts.

“One day I was looking in a strength and weightlifting magazine that they were having AAU meets, and that my marks weren’t that far off from those at the state meets and went on to finish fourth place in my first meet,” Parsons said.

Ever since his first competition, he has gone on to earn a medal every time out, but he also noticed that he could not get higher than a bronze medal.

“I was one of the few that were not taking steroids and looking to take it to the professional level,” Parsons said. “I just did it for exercise purposes, so why would I want to do something that would harm that. Health was always my top priority.”

As his sons got older they began powerlifting and eventually body building and the family even competed in the same events at times.

For years now, people have been taken back when they find out he is a powerlifter, but the fact that they do not believe him when he first tells them, is something he has come to take pride in, because he knows he came about it by natural hard work and dedication.

As he has gotten older and competed in categories where only those not taking steroids can compete, the gold medals have begun to rack up each year, with multiple golds coming in some years.

“I compete in what they consider a category for lifetime drug-free participants,” Parsons said.

One of his formulas for success is that strategy he employs during a competition and with his approach to powerlifting.

“Every time I strive to achieve a personal best year after year, but only by five pounds or so,” Parsons said. “I do this either with more weight or more reps.”

That strategy of consistency has helped him win a world championship and has allowed him to win a gold medal in every Florida Senior Games he has ever entered.

“It’s like the story of the tortoise and the hare,” Parsons said. “It’s all about consistency and building over time. I only lift enough to win.”

However, he also acknowledges the fact that his whole experience is a unique one.

“Most Olympic lifters reach their peak strength at 35 years old, but mine was 65, so it’s kind of weird,” Parsons chuckled. “It just shows that if you stick with it for a long period of time, you can do something that some would have never even dreamed possible.”