Ryan Sparks
Curry Coastal Pilot

Ryan Girard and Tammy Walker are not your average couple. The Gold Beach duo, who co-own Wild Rivers Acupuncture and Massage in Brookings, appear normal enough except for one glaring characteristic. They are the strongest couple in Oregon after they both won their group at the United States Powerlifting Association's Oregon state championships on June 14 in Newport.

Girard, who returned to competition after a five-year hiatus, won the men's Submasters division for ages 35 to 39 as well as the overall men's title with a squat of 529 pounds, a dead lift of 562 pounds, and a bench press of 512 pounds. Girard's massive bench press mark also broke an American record for his age group, netting him his sixth bench press record.

"Starting out in the sport a long time ago, I remember looking at those records and thinking they were unreachable," admitted Girard regarding his record-breaking mark.

Girard, who has also been a personal trainer for over 20 years, admits that he was less nervous about his performance and more concerned about Walker.

"Winning felt great. I felt less pressure because, when I left the sport before, I was pretty much at top of the bench press. I held American records in three different weight classes and pretty much achieved my goals in the sport," he said. "I was more nervous for Tammy, it being her first competition, I wanted her to have fun."

Walker not only had fun, she thrived by beating 18 other competitors in her class to win the women's Masters 1 group (age 40-44) in her first competition.

"I'm still a little in shock because I did so well," said Walker who also broke an American record with a squat of 283 pounds. "It was pretty cool. I was very pleased that I did every lift and completed all my attempts."

Walker won her group with a bench press of 132 pounds, a dead lift of 319 pounds, and the aforementioned record-breaking squat mark. Walker credits Girard's training with her early success.

"I've only had a gym membership since November. It was pretty much my first gym membership," she admitted. "I definitely had confidence in Ryan's training ability and the message that he uses: just focus on breathing and staying calm."

Girard states he saw Walker had talent for the sport early on.

"When I got her in the gym the first time I knew she had something special," he declared. " I think her growing up on the Oregon Coast trained her for it. She's always been a farm girl and that's hard work."

Winning the Oregon state championship in their age group qualifies Girard and Walker for the world championships on November 8 and 9 in Las Vegas. Though a world championship would be a nice trophy to add to the mantle, Girard is just happy to be back competing.

"It's a sport where there is a lot of good camaraderie and the people are great," he said. "It was a lot of fun coming back into that."