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Hidden talent: powerlifting

Clayton Bautista, Five Star Nutrition general manager, left, helps Staff Sgt. Allen Plata, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron stockpile management crew chief, rack weights off a barbell at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Nov. 1, 2018.

Clayton Bautista, Five Star Nutrition general manager, left, helps Staff Sgt. Allen Plata, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron stockpile management crew chief, rack weights off a barbell at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Nov. 1, 2018. Plata works with coaches and friends to keep his mental, physical and nutritional state on point. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st class BrieAnna Stillman)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Allen Plata, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron stockpile management crew chief, squats to continue to keep proper form during off-season at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Nov. 1, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Allen Plata, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron stockpile management crew chief, squats to continue to keep proper form during off-season at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Nov. 1, 2018. Plata went on to beat South Carolina’s state records in his weight class for squatting and deadlifts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class BrieAnna Stillman)

Clayton Bautista, Five Star Nutrition general manager, left, ensures Staff Sgt. Allen Plata, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron stockpile management crew chief, has proper form while power lifting at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Nov. 1, 2018.

Clayton Bautista, Five Star Nutrition general manager, left, ensures Staff Sgt. Allen Plata, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron stockpile management crew chief, has proper form while power lifting at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Nov. 1, 2018. Bautista had been working with Plata, supporting him mentally and nutritionally. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st class BrieAnna Stillman)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Allen Plata, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron stockpile management crew chief, displays his achievements at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Nov. 1, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Allen Plata, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron stockpile management crew chief, displays his achievements at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Nov. 1, 2018. Plata placed third nationally in his weight class and beat South Carolina state records in the deadlift and squat. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class BrieAnna Stillman)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Many times people go through life never knowing about the incredible talent they may possess.

This would be true for Staff Sgt. Allen Plata, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron stockpile management crew chief, who may have never known about his powerlifting abilities if it weren’t for joining the Air Force.

Physical fitness has always been a part of the military way of life and fitness tests ensure members are maintaining that way of life. But for some, push-ups, sit-ups, and running just isn’t enough.

“I was bored of the normal workouts so I decided to switch it up and start lifting,” said Plata. “Prior to the military I had never stepped in a gym, I used to just surf or play golf.”

Little did Plata know he had a talent that would lead him to rank third nationally and break records in the state of South Carolina.

Plata began powerlifting while in the gym in order to mix up his workouts and soon realized he had a knack for it.

Later on, his friends back home invited him to do a powerlifting competition just for fun and Plata thought “why not?” it had been on his bucket list and he enjoyed doing it.

It was there he realized he had true potential for the sport when he placed 2nd in his weight class and qualified for nationals. He later went on to compete in nationals, which he thought would be his last competition, and placed third pulling 600 pounds.

“I wanted to pull 600 pounds and after I felt that weight in my hands I could tell there was still a lot left in the tank which made me hungry for another competition where I really wanted to give it my all,” said Plata.

Of course Plata did not achieve all of this on his own. He had help from fellow coaches and friends to get him through not only physically, but mentally as well.

When Plata decided to compete again, he made a new friend along the way: Clayton Bautista, Five Star Nutrition general manager.

“You’re not going to be happy-go-lucky all the time and some days you won’t hit the weight you’re prescribed and that can be really discouraging,” said Plata. “Clay is a positive reinforcement that reminds me it is okay to have off days and to let it go and get back up the next morning and start again.”

Through Plata’s journey he and Bautista became close friends and supported each other in different aspects of their lives.

“It’s really cool knowing I can support him through his journey and have similar mindsets,” said Bautista. “Allen looked at me for guidance with nutrition and personal support at one point, and watching him compete I hope to one day be able to look at him for guidance when it comes to competing.”

Plata decided it was time to make his mark and set new records for S.C. in both the deadlift and squat.

The state record for squats was 380 pounds, which Plata beat by 38 pounds. The state record for the deadlift was 480 pounds and Plata beat that by 137 pounds.

Through thick and thin, Plata pushed through all his obstacles to achieve a goal he may have never knew existed.

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