A Bavarian controls
the bar

“Bank boss” rules the Invictus Games stage at 72.

For Helmuth Platzer, it was an honour to chair the powerlifting judges at the INVICTUS GAMES DÜSSELDORF 2023 presented by Boeing. His passion for what is, in the truest sense, a heavy sport has made him a globetrotter.

Slowly, very slowly, Titilia Fisher stretches her arms. The barbell with the bright red weight plates moves upwards in slow motion. Then it’s done: the Englishwoman has lifted 82 kilos, sits up on the weight bench, clenches her fists and is cheered on by the audience in front of the brightly lit stage. Silver in the IP3-IP5.

One person who looks very closely at the bench press competitions sits a little to the side on the stage. Helmuth Platzer is one of the top judges. And a more knowledgeable judge on everything related to lifting weights would be hard to find.

The judges sit at a long table near the weight bench. A few meters away, hard-working helpers in white T-shirts have the demanding job of quickly sorting the plates. After all, the right weight has to be on the barbell for each person.

Platzer and company are responsible for the proper running of the competitions in the different categories of injury and weight, divided, of course, into women and men. One of the differences to other competitions: the competitors have two minutes, not just one, to perform a valid attempt. After all, preparation also takes longer here at the INVICTUS GAMES 23 presented by Boeing as some participants are strapped to the bench for better stabilization, while others are led to the barbell by their coach.

Everything else is routine for Platzer. The native Bavarian has always been committed to powerlifting. In addition to bench press, he also specializes in deadlift and squat. He has been a referee with a German license since 1996 and is often on international duty. For example, in front of 5,000 spectators at a competition in Argentina or at the World Bench Press Championship in Sun City, the Las Vegas of South Africa, if you will.

But that’s not all: Platzer also participated in the 2022 European Championships in Munich. In his home state, he also organizes the Highland Games and, as chairman of the Puch Weightlifting Club, is naturally the contact person for the younger athletes. And he speaks from successful experience. “There was a time when I was unbeatable in Bavaria in stone lifting in the middleweight category up to 95 kilograms,” recalls the fit and athletic-looking 72-year-old with a smile.

It’s only logical that sport still plays an important role for the former European runner-up. The atmosphere at the Invictus Games really impressed the powerlifting expert. “It’s great to see how the athletes are happy about their performances. And, by the way, about their competitors’ as well, it’s an unbelievable sense of togetherness,” says the head of the judging team.

It was a matter of honour that the former industrial foreman and project manager was very happy to accept the call to be here in Düsseldorf. “This really is a very special atmosphere, this interaction with each other is really touching,” he says.

At home, Platzer has to be on the mat with his club again as soon as possible: he also manages the training of the juniors, and the next tour as a referee is already scheduled. The destination is Budapest. Platzer is in demand at the European Youth and Junior Championships in the Powerlifiting.

A trip to Austin, Texas, at the end of January is already planned, and there too, of course, the focus will be on bench pressing. Another trip overseas may follow in the near future, when the next Invictus Games are due to take place in Canada in 2025. Helmuth Platzer would certainly find a spot for that in his packed calendar.

Author: Oliver Bitter