Jul 14, 2010 6:32 PM by David Ortivz

Pueblo athlete to compete at Special Olympics

A man from Pueblo is out to prove disabilities can't get in the way of your dreams. Jeremy Rodriguez struggles with certain basic skills like reading, but when it comes to lifting weights, his coaches say he's in a league of his own. "Jeremy is a machine," said his coach Jim Sajbel. "He eats, sleeps and drinks weight lifting. That's his whole life," he added.

We caught up with Jeremy during a workout at World Gym in Pueblo on Wednesday. Jeremy has been pumping iron for the past three years, and he's really good at it! When asked how much he can lift, Jeremy replied, "I bench 350 lbs, I dead lift 400 lbs, and I squat 400lb."

"To put it in perspective, it's Impressive for anybody to do that amount of weight," said coach Sajbel. Perhaps even more so for someone like Jeremy, who's struggled his entire life. "He's actually borderline of mental retardation," said Celestia Rodriguez, Jeremy's mother.

Celestia Rodriguez says her 30-year-old son lives with severe learning disabilities. "He can't read, he probably reads at a first grade level. He has short-term memory, everything he does almost has to be repetition," said Celestia Rodriguez.

Perhaps that's why doing reps at the gym has taken him so far. Last year, Jeremy took gold at the Special Olympics State Competition, and now he's headed to nationals! His coach, Jim Sajbel says it's a testament of Jeremy's dedication and positive attitude. "We tell him you can do this, and he does it," said Sajbel. "He has really stepped up our program and make the other kids better too, because they want to be like Jeremy," he added.

"He's really flourished in the things that he likes and his accomplishments. I'm really proud of him," says Celestia Rodriguez.

Jeremy's goal is to take gold at nationals, but win or lose, he'll be power lifting for a long time. "Til I get get tired of doing it," said Rodriguez as he laughed.

The Special Olympic National Competition will be held July 18 through July 23 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Jeremy will compete with close to 3,000 other athletes from all over the country! For more information about the competition click here.

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