A doc's dogged desire

Weightlifter: A Harford County veterinarian is giving the Olympics his best shot after capturing the heavyweight title at the Irish championships

July 14, 1999|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

The first thing you think upon learning Patrick Maizels is a veterinarian whose other passion is weightlifting is that he got sick of trying to hoist Great Danes and other large mastiffs onto the table to administer shots.

After all, it doesn't figure: a 1988 graduate of Pikesville High School who went on to UMBC to pick up a degree in chemistry chucking barbells around in his spare time. Why not tennis or Frisbee or golf, a sport he played in school?

What started as an outlet while attending veterinary school at Ross University on St. Kitts in the Caribbean within a couple of years put Maizels at a nationally competitive level of lifting.

"I've been in 33 competitions the last couple of years, and there's no way that would have been possible except for the support of my family [wife Deborah and 10-month-old son Tyler]. They've been great," Maizels says, proudly.

All the extracurricular work has paid off so far. Maizels, who lives in Churchville in Harford County, is near the top level of his sport by capturing the heavyweight title at the Irish National Championships in Dublin over the Fourth of July weekend.

Was it a case of having to travel five time zones and 4,000 miles east just to whet the competitive appetite?

"Uh-uh," says Maizels, who, after a couple of days of pigging out probably carries 2 percent body fat on his block, 228-pound frame. "My mother [the former Barbara Timlin] is Irish, a native of Balliner in County Mayo, and, as such, that makes me an Irish citizen. I'm going to try to compete for Ireland at next summer's Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia."

At 29, he's more than halfway there, having fulfilled the first requirement, a national title. Now, he has to meet the Olympic qualifying standard, which he sees as no problem.

In the midst of easing off training for a month, then going on three six-week training cycles with his coach, biomechanical engineer Dave Stein, to prepare for the World Championships in Athens, Greece, in late November, Maizels is in the process of getting a new business under way. He has started home-visit Harford Mobile Veterinary Service business with partner Charles Lerner.

Obviously, he's not one intimidated by a busy schedule.

"I'm a guy, I think, who has always given 100 percent to whatever I undertake, and that held true when I started lifting," says Maizels. "At the same time, I don't start things unless I see a purpose. I found myself doing well working with weights as a hobby, and it was easy to keep going.

"It has been a godsend for me. The prioritizing and regimentation has worked in well with family living, the healthy lifestyle is great and, last but not least, it's a great reason to travel."

Baby in tow, too

Maizels heads out, and you can be assured wife and baby head out, too.

"We got back from Europe at midnight last night [picking up five hours in the process]," recalls Deborah Maizels, "and as you can plainly see, the baby seems to have come through it the best." Tyler, whose middle name is Bear, wanted action, not a rest day.

In contrast to the way he got into lifting almost by accident, Pat Maizels knew pretty much where he was headed as he neared the end of high school. "I've been told I took one of the toughest routes to veterinary medicine by majoring in chemistry in college, but I just liked the subject so much."

He was on a waiting list for vet school at Virginia Tech. Or he could have attended the University of Pennsylvania with a dual major (graduate work in chemistry as well as the degree in veterinary medicine). "But I knew I didn't want lab work, and Ross University offered entry right off, so the decision was easy."

After three years at Ross, he was required to take a clinical year in the United States, and he went to Oklahoma State. Upon graduation in 1996, it was time to practice. "I worked in an office in Parkville and Charlie [Lerner] was in an office in Bel Air when we decided to combine and start our mobile vet business.

"It's such a needed service," he says. "Both of us had gotten into the practice of making house calls, and we soon realized how important it was to service the elderly or people with multiple pets who couldn't make it into the office. It's an innovation we know is going to work because it's so much more personal, and you see the better results immediately when you start working with the animals."

Ultimately, the partners plan to open a surgical facility. Until then, they'll contract out to vet hospitals.

352 pounds, on a good day

In Ireland, Maizels' winning efforts were a 264-pound snatch and a 330-pound clean and jerk. "At the Virginia State Open in Richmond last December, I did a 275 snatch and a 352 clean and jerk. By November, I'm looking to do 300 and 400 which, on my good days, sees me right around there," Maizels says.

"But this is a sport where you have good days and bad days, both in practice and competition. You just have to hope you're peaking at the right time. One of the keys is achieving something on a bad day. That's progress and that's what you're looking for.

"As in other [individual] sports, you can't fake it. You can't give less than 100 percent when you're training and rely on somebody else. You either do it or you don't. It's brutally honest and quite apparent when you haven't done the work."

At the same time, there's a lot more to weightlifting than strictly the physical aspect. "You have to understand the physics of it," he says. "Knowing and understanding leverage, the center of gravity and other things all work into it. That other stuff [like strongest man competitions and power lifting] can be 100 percent testosterone."

Note that he said, "can be."

"No sense getting those guys mad at me," Maizels says.

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