By Brian Oliver
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - You might think weightlifting is a red meat kind of sport. Not so for the United States' Kendrick Farris, who competed in his third Olympics on Saturday - the first time as a vegan.
Farris, 30, made the switch two years ago after the birth of his second son. Despite the high protein levels needed to compete in the sport he has improved his performance and said: “I feel lighter, more focused.
“My wife laughed when I told her I was switching to a vegan diet but I am a very determined person. I wanted to return to the purest form of life because of my Israelite ancestors and that started with the food." “Sure, I loved burgers before, but I love them still, made from mushrooms or beans," said the lifter, who came third in the B group of lesser-ranked lifters in the 94kg class.
Farris’ coach Kyle Pierce, a professor of kinesiology and health science at Louisiana State, in Farris' home town of Shreveport, said: "His becoming a vegan didn’t concern me in terms of his performance.
"He knows about mixing beans and rice and so on."
However, Farris, who holds four U.S. national records and won the PanAmerican Games gold last year at 94 kg, made only two good lifts in totaling 357 kg.
At one point in the clean and jerk, there were 10 misses in 12 attempts by various lifters.
There was another rarity in the B group when Britain’s Sonny Webster competed in a cap. “How about that, I might not have made a great total but I must be the first Olympic weightlifter to wear a snapback,” said Webster, 22.
He had to wear it backwards because if the bar had touched the peak it would have been a no-lift.
Webster made 333 kg and said: "The last 11 years of my sporting life flashed by out there when I made my total. It was the most amazing day of my life."
(Editing by Alison Williams)