URI pharmacy student power lifts his way to championships

KINGSTON, R.I. — June 1, 1999–Jason Oliveira has the chiseled body of an athlete, but at 5-feet, 6-inches tall, he isn’t what one would consider an imposing figure. It’s what the 160-pound University of Rhode student does with that body that is imposing. The Assonet, Mass. resident, who just completed his freshman year at URI, can lift three times his own weight. Or in simple terms, he can deadlift (hoisting the weights from the ground to the waist), 512.5 pounds, bench press 248 pounds and squat with 413.25 pounds on the barbell. Lifting at those levels earned him first place in the recent USA Powerlifting New England Powerlifting Championships, in the 165-pound Collegiate Division. The Taunton, Mass. event attracted 70 competitors, including five in Oliveira’s weight class, two of them West Point cadets. Oliveira is a three-time national champion and two-time world champion. He will be competing in the USA Powerlifting National Powerlifting Championship in Omaha, Neb. June 19 and 20. A pharmacy major who joined the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity this past semester, Oliveira also has brain power. He notched a 3.1 grade point average for the spring semester. What’s his secret to success? “I train, train, train, train. I always trained harder than anyone else in my high school.” Plus, he’s been at it awhile. His brother got him started in the eighth over grade, and he has been a serious lifter since then. “I was body building initially, but then switched to power lifting since my freshman year in Coyle Cassidy High School,” he said. “All four years in high school, I played football. Our power lifting coach was also the freshman football coach. “I’m still a big football fan, but I didn’t consider playing football at URI, because I am not really big enough and I don’t have the time. When I came here, I weighed only 148 pounds.” Oliveira described body building as a sport that seeks body symmetry, no body fat, and muscle tone. Power lifting simply focuses on how much the athletes can lift, and it’s more about power. When he is at URI, he lifts four days a week at Steve’s Gym in Bonnet Shores, Narragansett, putting in two hours each time. “When I started power lifting, it was a big adrenaline rush to try to see how much I could lift.” Oliveira said the frequent and demanding workouts leave him time and energy only for the essentials–his schoolwork and life in the fraternity. “It takes a lot out of you when you go to the gym,” he said. “I go from class to the gym, and then do homework. It’s definitely tough working out four days a week.” He said he enjoys life in the fraternity house and at URI in general. “I love it here. I just have fun here, and it’s a nice campus,” he said. A National Honor Society student in high school, he considered going to Boston University for its pre-med program, but changed his mind to pursue pharmacy at URI. “I definitely love school, and my parents like URI,” Oliveira said. “They just keep telling me to get the grades up.” -xxx- For Further Information: Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116