Raising the Bar for Spondylitis
A fundraising event to benefit the Spondylitis Association of America
Derek Sherlock is Raising the Bar for Spondylitis, one event at a time in 2024!

Derek is a self-coached world-championship level powerlifter in his 60s, participating in drug tested events, despite having ankylosing spondylitis since childhood.  

He lifts in the Masters category appropriate to his age, in the IPL (International Powerlifting League) and USPA (United States Powerlifting Association).

Derek was the IPL world champion in 2021 in his category, and he has broken four world records — two of which he still holds.

This fundraising event is associated with his future participation in major powerlifting events such as IPL Masters World Cup (Belton TX April 6, 2024), the USPA National championships (Las Vegas NV June 2024), and the IPL World championships (Las Vegas NV November 2024).  See the links below to learn more.

The Spondylitis Association of America (SAA) is grateful to Derek for creating his fundraising event to raise funds to help those living with spondyloarthritis. 100% of the proceeds will go to the SAA.

Please consider a donation today in honor of Derek’s powerlifting events and his determination to raise funds to help SAA continue to provide quality programs that support all those affected by spondylitis.

Derek shared his story with SAA and his motivation to inspire his community to support him on this journey:

I was first diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis in 1973 at the age of 11, when I quite suddenly developed severe inflammation in my left foot and right wrist.  In hindsight, early symptoms started long before that.  Along the way, I had MANY misdiagnoses:  Rheumatic fever, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sacroiliitis, JRA, Stills Disease, you name it.   Ankylosing spondylitis was not very well understood back in 1973, and there was no organization like SAA to turn to.

During my early teens, there was a period of almost a year when I could not walk at all.  I was mostly bedridden, or when I did get around, it was by crawling, hopping (I had one good foot!), or using crutches.  My dominant right hand became almost unusable due to inflammation in the wrist, so I switched to left-handedness for all skills learned after the age of 11.  And since I was still growing, I developed an asymmetry.  To this day, my right arm is still about three inches shorter than my left , and considerably thinner and weaker.  My left leg is also slightly shorter than my right.

At the age of 24 I emigrated to the USA.  About the same time, I decided — unilaterally and without the approval of my doctors — to go entirely off the NSAIDs.  I can’t say exactly why I did this — it certainly wasn’t easy and caused me a lot of pain — but I just feared that long-term dependence on NSAIDs could not be healthy.  In hindsight, I am SO glad I did this.  Many years later, in my early 60s, I was examined by a kidney doctor (nephrologist), who told me that had I stayed on NSAIDs much longer, I’d probably be on dialysis today.  I stopped just in time to retain enough kidney function to live a normal life.

 When I think about my adult life, many of the high points occurred when, in defiance of ankylosing spondylitis, I decided to push through with a physically demanding activity.  I learned to downhill ski, and later cross-country.  I have summited Long’s Peak, plus four others of Colorado’s 14,000 foot peaks.  One of the first things my soon-to-be wife Joy and I did together was to hike the Inca Trail in Peru.  We went on to hike about 250 miles of the Colorado Trail.  We joined a sweep rowing club.  We signed up to be volunteers doing hiking patrols for the US Forest service.  And we did weight training in the gym, which led to my next adventure.

Somehow, at the age of 57, I “discovered” that I was strong!  Lopsided and asymmetrical, but strong.  My strength coach at the time, Domenick, tried to encourage me to become a bodybuilder, but I wisely rejected that idea and chose powerlifting instead.  I entered my first powerlifting contest in 2019, broke my first state record in 2019, my first national record in 2020, and my first world record in 2021.

Powerlifting is a great sport for somebody starting later in life because there are multiple age and weight categories.  Championship titles and records are tracked separately for each category.  You can compete against other athletes on a reasonably level playing field.  I started in the age 55-59 category for men weighing under 100kg.  Now I lift in the age 60-64 category.

I have competed in the US Nationals four times and in the World championships twice — winning Nationals three times and Worlds once in my age/weight category.

My wife Joy has also competed several times and has won a local contest.

IPL Drug Tested Masters Cup

Website:  IPL Drug Tested Master’s Cup, Belton, Texas – USPA

When   April 6, 2024

Where Belton County Expo Center, 301 W Loop 121, Belton, TX 76513, USA

Outcome  Derek competed in Men’s Masters 110kg Classic Raw category, and broke the IPL world record for deadlift by lifting 230.5 kg or 508.3 lb.

USPA Drug Tested National Championships:

Website:  2024 USPA Drug Tested Nationals – USPA

  June 24 – June 29, 2024.
Derek competes on Friday June 28.

Where Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino 3555 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV, United States

Outcome:  Withdrawn.  Derek decided to skip the USPA Nationals this year, to better focus his training toward the IPL World Championships in November.

IPL Drug Tested World Championships:

Website:  2024 IPL Drug Tested World Powerlifting Championships

When    Nov 14 – 17, 2024.
Derek Competes on Saturday, Nov 16.

Where   GoldenNugget Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, 129 E Fremont St, Las Vegas, NV 89101, USA (map)

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