Renowned American strongman Derek Poundstone is back! But to what extent?
In an official video announcement (embedded below), Ultimate Strongman broke news that three-time America’s Strongest Man Derek Poundstone would be participating in their Team World Championship.
Poundstone enters the competition under somewhat ironic circumstances. He is joining as a late replacement for fellow American strongman Jerry Pritchett, who found himself unable to heal quickly enough from a torn bicep to fulfill his commitment to the June 4th event in England.
Strongman fans may recall that Poundstone himself chose retirement in 2015, two years after he sustained his own slow-to-heal bicep tear, at the 2013 Arnold Classic Australia.
Poundstone has not competed in strongman since that calamitous performance at the March 2013 event, but only indirectly blamed the injured bicep for his retirement. Rather, he said, “…I just got tired of the constant abuse on my body.”
That abuse included four disk injuries, fractured vertebrae, a torn quadricep, a torn pectoral, and, finally, the infamous torn bicep.
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Remnants from a biceps tear I suffered at the 2013 Arnold Strongman Classic. I often get asked why I stepped away from the sport of #strongman !! Truth be told that after suffering 4 disk injuries in my back, fracturing a vertebra, tearing a quad and tearing a pec, I still was ready to come back for more each time. That was until I tore my bicepts right in the middle of the muscle belly. The injury was relatively mild compared to what I've suffered in the past. The recovery was long for me and I just got tired of the constant abuse on my body. This is the first time I've showed this "scar" and actually officially announced that I'm no longer competing in strongman. My last competition was just about 2 years ago and I ended my career the same way I started, with a win….. When one door closes, another one opens!!! My first Strongman competition was the "Beast of the East" held in March 2003 just outside Pittsburgh, PA. My last competition was the FitX (Now the Australia Arnold Classic) held in March 2013. Both competition were wins and they bookmark a career containing almost exclusively wins or top 3 finishes in all but a few competitions. I've competed in over 30 comps and stood along side men I've both looked up to and also helped along the way. I've lost friends and gained a family. With that I can only look ahead at the future with unbridled enthusiasm because things in life always have a way of getting better so long as you're willing to work for everything you want. #poundstonepower #poundstoneperformance #noexcuses #nolimits
Yet, though Poundstone’s list describes a ton of wear and tear, his statement suggests his injuries did not force his retirement – if even his healing process lasted so long as to significantly atrophy his strength.
It cannot be said, then, that his return to strongman is completely unexpected. After all, the two-time Arnold Strongman Classic winner and four-time World’s Strongest Man finalist is only 36-years-old. Connecticut’s Poundstone has worked as a personal trainer and police officer ever since leaving the sport behind, and that resume proves him a long way from some deleterious life as a couch potato.
Two months after his strongman retirement, he was still competing as a powerlifter. Unfortunately, his dedication to strength sports resulted in another torn quad (video of that attempt embedded below).
After more than four years outside of strongman competition – and two years removed from competitive strength athletics entirely – it is a bit strange to find Derek Poundstone suddenly thrust into a “world championship.” And though team-based strongman hasn’t quite earned the same respect its one-on-one forefather has, the athletic demands placed on each individual remain significant.
I suspect, while he is probably not in world championship shape, Derek Poundstone is at least capable of placing at the Ultimate Strongman Team World Championships. For starters, his partner on “Team Yankees,” Martins Licis, is a reigning WSM finalist, currently competing in Botswana. Furthermore, the Big Four (Brian Shaw, Zydrunas Savickas, Hafthor Bjornsson, and Eddie Hall) will not be participating.
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One upon a time a gym was a place that you went to challenge yourself and strive to lift more weight, build more and be the best version of yourself. Social media has turned this discipline into something pathetic where anyone that deadlifts with horrible form and takes a gym selfie feels they are part of the iron culture. All I have to say is thank god I own my own gym where membership is the smallest price you pay to join……. Be the best version of yourself and don't strive to belong. The gym is a place where the outcasts go, the people that just don't fit anywhere else in society fit well among the cold iron and rusty bars…..
With no statement from the man himself, fans cannot be certain if Poundstone intends on a full-scale return to the most elite realms of the sport, or if he is just doing his patriotic duty for a fellow countryman. The fact that his social media is absent of training footage makes speculation difficult, but does not suggest that he hasn’t been training. In fact, Poundstone has gone on record with a negative opinion of selfies and modern fitness culture in general.
“Once upon a time, I had a bright idea to build a gym with the best equipment in the world. The goal was to provide an affordable place for people to use equipment which was usually reserved for the best athletes in the world. Well, that didn’t work out too well. It seems people that frequent most gyms care more about selfies and checking themselves out in the mirror. After 3 years and 11 months I closed my gym, Poundstone Performance…”
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Once upon a time I had a bright idea to build a gym with the best equipment in the world. The goal was to provide an affordable place for people to use equipment which was usually reserved for the best athletes in the world. Well that didn't work out to well, it seems people that frequent most gyms care more about selfies and checking them self out in the mirror. After 3 years and 11 months I closed my gym @poundstoneperformance but on the bright side I'm in the midst of building the most insane home gym. I can't stand the idea of someone else touching my @sorinex equipment so the cars are banished outside and here's a sneak peak at my progress….. 1 Squat rack is assembled, now on to the auto spot benches, seated row and all the other goodies….. #movingforward #noexcuses
If the American strength legend is indeed in fighting shape, I wish him luck avoiding re-injury and trust he will disregard the naysayers. His contemporary, Zydrunas Savickas has had some big injuries, too – and, impressively, he is competing in the 2017 World’s Strongest Man at 41-years-old.
I approached Derek Poundstone for comment through social media, but he did not respond and his pages are not especially active. I hoped to hear from the man himself about how far he was taking this journey outside of retirement.
Time will tell.
Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.
Featured image: @derekpoundstone on Instagram