Injured Afghanistan veteran found his motivation from bench press

Raigo Roots

Raigo Roots says he is the only competitive Estonian physically disabled powerlifter. In Estonia he can compete with able bodied powerlifters but when he would like to see how well he is doing compared to other physically disabled powerlifters, he needs to travel to Finland.

Roots took part in the open Finnish bench press championships for lifters with physical disability in Pajulahti. He finished second in the class for lifters under 80 kilos with his personal record 137 kilos. With a bench press shirt he has lifted 140 kilos.

Roots represents the Estonia Military Team. That gives a hint how the 26-year-old Nato country resident has lost both his legs.

– I was serving in Helmand province in Afghanistan when I stepped in to a IED (Improvised Explosive Device), Roots tells about the tragedy that took place almost exactly five years ago.

Roots was in a coma for half months and woke up without legs. As a professional soldier he was of course in a good shape but hasn’t done any competitive sports before.

– I used to go to a gym and do some jogging. I always liked going to gym, so when my physio made me strengthen my arms with bench press and told me about possibility to compete in it, I was easily inspired, Roots said.

Powerlifting has given Roots much motivation to go on with his life. He has already competed in big events in the United States and Great Britain as well as in the European Championships in Hungary. There’s still long way to go to the top of the World, but that doesn’t bother Roots.

– I just want to get better. Maybe lift 170 kilos one day, he told.