While the focus during London 2012 will quite rightly fall on the athletes taking part, many of the events’ volunteer referees and officials have stories of their own – including HomeServe USA’s Robert Herbst, who combines a career as the top lawyer to the home emergency experts with a second life as a record-breaking powerlifter and who will be helping run the wrestling events at the Games.
The Olympic Games may be taking place 200 miles away, but [Walsall / Preston] -based business HomeServe will still have a presence at London 2012 thanks to Robert Herbst, HomeServe’s top lawyer in the US who also happens to be a record breaking powerlifter in his spare time – and who will be helping to run the wrestling events at the Games.
Herbst, General Counsel, HomeServe USA, will be switching the court room for the wrestling mat from 5 August. He will be helping with equipment, including making sure equipment and warm-up areas are safe and in good condition, and working across the entire wrestling program – Greco-Roman, Freestyle, and Female.
Herbst, 54, was wrestling at college when a friend sent him a newspaper article about someone in the same bodyweight class as him who was lifting similar weights to those he was as part of his training – and who had set an American record in the process. That led to a 30-year and counting career competing in powerlifting, winning 25 National Championships, including a current streak of 17 consecutive titles, with the most recent claimed this March, 11 World Championships – and breaking a number of world records along the way.
Herbst, who has cousins in the UK and is something of an Anglophile, answered organisers’ call for volunteer officials as an opportunity to give back to the sport and help make London 2012 the best Games to date.
He has previously been involved in running other major sporting events, including the powerlifting venue at the Special Olympics World Games and acting as MC at several World Drug Free Powerlifting Federation championships.
Herbst says: “Being a lawyer and being a powerlifter are extensions of each other. In each, you train hard and prepare, and then go out alone against an opponent – be it an opposing litigant or lifter, another party in a negotiation or a new weight target. Lifting has helped me develop discipline and focus which helps me as a lawyer and vice versa.
“It has taken a lot of discipline, but I am very proud of the fact that I have been able to perform at a high level for a very long time in the face of injuries and the usual adversities of life.”
Despite being in his 50s, Herbst has no intentions of giving up powerlifting yet. He says: “I do not view this stage in life as different from any other. If you train and take part in sport, there is never any reason to ever quit. On those days when I have worked hard and am tired – and there are many of those – I don’t even give myself the option of not training. My eye is on the prize: health, fitness, and testing myself in competition.”
He adds: “I still feel the fire in my belly and a desire to train, compete, and test myself against my limits, regardless of how they have changed due to age or other factors. I still think I have a few good performances left so I am not yet ready to hang it up.”
Herbst will be visiting HomeServe’s Walsall offices on 1 August on his way to London 2012.
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