DALLAS — Powerlifting and bodybuilding is in the blood of Millie Garcia. She has been a competitor for over 40 years, and it is no surprise she passed that passion down to her two sons.
The 71-year-old’s home is lined with trophies from her own competitions. Yet, one of her biggest goals has been to compete alongside her sons, 50-year-old Roberto Mercado and 35-year-old Alejandro Mercado.
The family will have that opportunity on Saturday in the NASA State Powerlifting Championship in Pollok, Texas.
“I hope to do well and be able to retire from competition,” said Garcia in Spanish, “I am preparing myself with my sons so we can make history; mother and sons in a competition together.”
Roberto, a Dallas Independent School District teacher, had retired from the sport but began to train during the pandemic. This will be his first competition in 20 years.
“To do this with my mom is something special, if we don’t do it now, we don’t know if we’re going to do it later,” said Roberto.
The 50-year-old added its abnormal to see a family compete in the same sport, especially with such an age difference. But it's even more rare to see a mother and her sons.
“With moms it seems a bit more complicated because they are dedicated to other things, but I guess my mamí was the exception,” said Roberto in Spanish.
The mother of two was the first female gym owner in Puerto Rico. She wanted to motivate the youth to be healthy and active.
Garcia opened the Mayaguez Olympic Gym in 1988 in Puerto Rico. Her gym was home to competitors in bodybuilding and powerlifting, who she also trained.
In the early 90s, Garcia was a bodybuilding competitor herself.
“She gave me the routine, everything, the nutrition, supplements, she’s my coach,” said Roberto, who began competing at 18.
With his mom’s training, Roberto won the Junior and Master World Cup Bench Press Championship in Puerto Rico in 1995.
Alejandro soon followed in his brother’s footsteps. As a 6-year-old, he would watch his mom train his brother, Roberto and other competitors.
In 2016, he won third place in his first national competition in Arroyo, Puerto Rico.
“My athletes always won, including my sons,” said Garcia proudly in Spanish.
After years of training others in powerlifting, at 42, Garcia decided to enter her first competition. At 65, she beat out the 45-year-old powerlifting champion in Arroyo, Puerto Rico.
In her six competitions, Garcia has always placed 1st in her category, which she clarifies is based on weight class not age.
This weekend, all three will compete in different weight classes. Alejandro will compete in the open powerlifting category in the 198-weight division. Roberto will compete as a master in the 220-weight division, and his mother will compete as a master in the 148-weight division.
“I feel very proud and excited. It’s the first time I will be able to compete in the same event with my brother. I have competed in the same event with my mom, but I haven’t had the opportunity with my brother,” said Alejandro.
If the family places in their division, they will go on to compete for the national title.