Power Lifter Chris Paynter

Posted on April 7, 2010

Christopher Paynter lifts a lot of weights, but recently that weight turned to “gold.”

As a power lifter for Oklahoma Special Olympics, Paynter recently competed in the first National Special Olympics games in Ames, Iowa, and brought home one gold and three silver medals. The 31-year-old athlete captured first place with a bench press of 242 pounds. He followed with silver in the categories of squat, dead lift and combination.
Paynter said he likes all parts of power lifting, but his favorite may be the bench press. In 1998, he broke the Junior American Record at the Sooner State Games, a power-lifting event separate from Special Olympics, when he bench-pressed 230 pounds. He weighed 121 pounds at the time.

Paynter has competed in Special Olympics since he was 10, but he became interested in power lifting when he was in the ninth grade. He began training every Saturday at what was then the Adams Course in Edmond. Today, he works out three to four days a week, year-round, at the Transformation Fitness Center in Edmond with Trent Fisher, his trainer for the last eight or nine years.

Throughout the years, Paynter has garnered his share of awards at the Oklahoma State Special Olympics. His mother, Ellen, estimates a total of 60-70 gold medals. That doesn’t include the medals he has earned at the International Special Olympics competitions. Even though this is the first year for national competition, international games have been taking place for years.

Paynter competed in the International Special Olympics in New Haven, Conn., in 1995, bringing home three gold medals. In 1999, he captured a gold, two silver and a bronze at Raleigh, N.C. In 2003, he traveled to Dublin, Ireland, to compete and earned two gold medals, one silver and a bronze. The seasoned athlete also competed in the International Winter Special Olympics in Alaska in 2001, earning a gold medal in downhill skiing and a silver in the giant slalom.

A 1995 graduate of Edmond Memorial High School, Paynter has been employed at the Meadows for nine years. He works in the document destruction department, traveling by truck to banks and clinics, where he picks up bins full of documents for shredding. The shredding is done at the Meadows.
“I travel a lot,” he said, “but I love it!”

His father, Dean Paynter, is on the board of directors at Meadows, which employs 40-60 people with disabilities at any given time.

Not to be outdone by his father, Paynter sits on the board of directors for the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR), a worldwide fundraiser for Special Olympics. Each organization asks one athlete to sit on its board. For the past two years, Paynter has been the designated athlete for the board of directors in Oklahoma, attending meetings once a month.

LETR also raises money for Special Olympics by sponsoring the “Polar Plunge,” a fun event each February at the Bass Pro Shop in Oklahoma City. Participants plunge into a swimming pool of ice water.

“It’s cold,” Paynter said, “but I do it.” However, he admitted to skipping the plunge one year when the weather was extremely cold. “I chickened out,” he said.

His parents attend every event he participates in, including the international games. Sometimes Paynter has to travel ahead of them, but they are always present to cheer on their son during his events. Paynter’s brother, Nicholas, who is in law school, also attended events when he was home, making it a family affair.

The next international event will take place in Shanghai, China, in 2007, but Paynter does not know if he will be going. There are several power-lifting athletes in the state but only a few slots available on the state team.

“We’re sending out an application right now,” he said. Meanwhile, he continues to train for state competition in Stillwater next spring.

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