Tom Sroka, age 27, is a resident of Fort Mill, South Carolina. The 6'0", 305-pound weightlifter trains at MuscleDriver USA in Fort Mill, South Carolina. Let's learn more about weightlifter Tom Sroka!
Q: How did you discover Olympic weightlifting events?
A: I got into weightlifting during high school. Instead of doing a regular PE class you had the option of taking a barbell class if you did a sport. I was always intrigued with trying to lift more weight than I did the day before and enjoyed the feeling of self-betterment. I then realized the benefits that training had on my sports performance and dove into training head-on, spending all my spare time in the gym.
As I went through college I was more enthused to be in the weight room training than out on the field participating in my sport. I was an All-American shot putter in college but spent more time lifting than throwing which is why I think the Head Athletic Trainer introduced me to Olympic Weightlifting.
Ariel Stephens, 5'3" and 154 lbs., is a 24-year-old (celebrated her birthday August 15) Olympic weightlifter who competed at the National Championships in weightlifting held in Salt Lake City, Utah, July 18-20, 2014. Let's learn more about this Team MDUSA lifter!
Q: What weight class do you compete in?
A: I train at 70-71kg and compete at 69kg.
Q: Where do you reside?
A: I'm currently in Seaside, California. However at the end of September, I will be making a cross country move to join Team MDUSA in South Carolina.
Q: Can you share any info regarding your training, degrees, and occupation?
A: I have a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Family Resources and a Certification in Spanish. I am also a certified nursing assistant, but am currently not working as one. After I graduated from college in 2012, I moved home to Sacramento, California and began working for a non-profit organization that was contracted with Child Protective Services.
I was a Case Manager for high risk families and provided community resources to alleviate family stressors. This was a rewarding, but extremely mentally demanding job.
Matt Wenning, age 34, resides in Columbus, Ohio and has an impressive curriculum vitae which includes a bachelor's degree in exercise science, a master's degree in biomechanics, serving as a speaker for the National Strength and Conditioning Association and the Australian Strength and Conditioning Association, as well as participating on an advisory panel for the Pentagon for the U.S. Armed Forces. Let's learn more about powerlifter Matt Wenning!
Are you an only child or do you come from a big family?
I have 2 siblings and mother still living. Grandmother on my mom's side, I'm very close with. We take across the country motorcycle rides yearly to various destinations.
Where do you train?
I train in my own facility – Ludus Magnus Performance Center – where we have all kinds of athletes and general populations, as well as people rehabilitating current or past injuries.
Sammy Cohen is a 21-year-old resident of Orlando, Florida. The 5'5" 140 lbs. Cohen is a finance major and trains at the University of Central Florida Recreation and Wellness Center. Let's learn more about this powerlifter and Figure competitor!
How did you get introduced to the iron?
I have always lived an active life, but when I came to college I stopped competing in gymnastics. And I knew I needed to do something to stay in shape, so I began going to the gym where I met my boyfriend at the time and he showed me how to work out and introduced me to the world of powerlifting.
As editor of Strength Central, it's my goal to promote the athletes who participate in the strength sports. I'm including Steven Whang - a bodybuilder - as an interview under "Strength Athletes" from the perspective of spiritual strength. What is the athlete's mindset? What does it take to achieve a fulfilling life? Many believe one component is spiritual health.
Dave traveled to Brazil to enjoy the serenity of medium and "psychic surgeon" João de Deus aka "John of God". Likewise, bodybuilder Steven Whang traveled to Kazakhstan where he helped people who have never lived in extravagance, doing God's/missionary work, building basketball courts, houses, schools, etc. for unfortunate children.
Let's learn more about Steven Whang, a 23-year-old all natural bodybuilder, engineer, and spiritual man three weeks out from the NPC New Jersey State Open Championships on August 16.
Greg Panora, age 33, is a powerlifter and resident of Portland, Maine. The 5'10", 270 lbs. competitor has a teaching degree and is a strength coach at CrossFit Casco Bay Gyms. Panora trains at CrossFit Casco Bay and Dyna Maxx.
Let's learn more about powerlifter Greg Panora!
Zack McCarley, age 26, is a three-time America's Strongest Man under 231 lbs. and six-time National champion in Strongman. The 5'8", 230 lbs. competitor is a resident of Ellensburg, Washington and holds a BS in Chemistry with Biochemistry specialization. McCarley is currently a graduate student in Chemistry and has worked as a para-educator and as a concrete finisher. He trains at Ellensburg CrossFit and RABFitness.
Let's learn more about this six-time National Strongman champion!
Laurie "bull.dogz" Smith, age 42, and her 16-year-old son reside in Tracy, California. The 5'4", 155 lbs. powerlifter has a career in inside sales for an electrical supply company, is a crossfit coach for Crossfit Tracy and is a rep for Controlled Labs supplements. She trains and coaches at Crossfit Tracy. Let's learn more about bull.dogz!