The last time Augustans saw the face of Thomas Ingalsbe, he was on television, competing more than a thousand miles away to become the world's strongest man.
Although he didn't win the 1997 World's Strongest Man Competition in Las Vegas, it was obvious Saturday he still had achieved a measure of fame as a weightlifter.
"I've had a lot of people come up to me and say that they recognize me," he said. "I'm sure most of them remember me from seeing my face on ESPN at the World's Strongest Man Competition."
Others at the Olympic-style weightlifting event at Evans High School remembered Ingalsbe as a former member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic team.
"That was really just an unbelievable experience," Ingalsbe said. "Being from the Atlanta area, it was great to compete in front of a home crowd like that."
Attending this year's Georgia Games, Ingalsbe said, was his way of preparing himself to relive that experience at the upcoming 2000 Olympic Games.
"This is my seventh or eighth showing in the Games," he said. "It's definitely always a good tuneup for me. With training like this, I'm hoping to make the team again and get a trip to Australia."
Ingalsbe was among 21 weightlifters in several weight classes competing in snatch and clean-and-jerk competitions. He took home a gold medal in the superheavy division, lifting a total of 683 pounds.
However, Ingalsbe wasn't the only high-profile athlete at the competition.
Robin Goad, 1994 World Weightlifting champion, and her husband, Dean, who competed in the Pan Am Games in 1991 and 1995, traveled from Newnan, Ga., to attend the Games. Robin didn't compete but did do some lifts for the crowd, preparing herself for the Aug. 4 Pan Am Games in Winnipeg, Canada.
"There are very few weightlifting events like this in the state," she said. "So, you really rely on them to prepare you, because it gets you used to a crowd."
Dean Goad participated in the snatch competition but failed to win a medal.
For one local athlete, Augusta resident Steve Colohan, the event provided another sort of opportunity.
Colohan, who won the Collegiate National Weightlifting Championship in 1985 while attending Augusta College, was nearly forced out of the sport in 1996 by a herniated disc in his back. All this year, he had been lifting weights in preparation for a return to the sport. On Saturday, his efforts paid off as he lifted 220 pounds in the snatch competition and took home a gold medal in his weight class.
"I never thought I'd lift again, but that was the best I've done in years," he said. "I needed that to put myself back in the top 50 in the nation."
And what better place for his return to come, he said, than at the Georgia Games being held in his hometown.
"This was just so monumental," he said. "I was able to do it in front of my family and friends. This was something that just had to happen in Augusta."
Saturday was the only day for olympic weightlifting competitions. However, powerlifting will take place beginning at 11 a.m. today at Evans High.
Preston Sparks can be reached at 868-1222, Ext. 110, or firstname.lastname@example.org