Updated: 07/30/2014 6:30 PM
Created: 07/30/2014 4:49 PM KAALtv.com
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- "My dad always told me that he can't grow me vertically, but he'll grow me horizontally," Taylor Atwood said.
Atwood started lifting weights at 13, but after capturing a state title in high school, the native Floridian found himself in Rochester, with those competitive juices still flowing.
"As soon as I got the job at IBM, I met a few people here at Work Out World, and they said, 'You're pretty strong. Have you ever tried powerlifting?'" Atwood said.
Powerlifting is a sport comprised of three events - the bench press, squat, and deadlift - but Atwood didn't start training until last October.
"It was kind of something I was just playing around with, and in my first meet, I won," Atwood said.
Atwood admits his form was bad, and he knew he had to get better, so he reached out to Canadian strength coach Jason Tremblay.
"I told him what my ultimate goals were, and that was to become a national champion. He kind of took it as a maybe; he's being a little cocky. But I told him, this is what I really want," Atwood said.
His determination paid off.
Last week, Atwood captured a national title in the 163-pound weight class at the USA Raw National Championships in Denver, and set a total pounds record in the process.
Suffice to say, his coach was impressed.
"He said that he's never seen anyone progress the way that I did. He said he hasn't seen anyone dedicated like that," Atwood said.
Up next for Atwood is some well-deserved R&R, but next June, he flies to Finland for the Raw World Championships.
"I would say my chances are very good of a world title next year," Atwood said. "I'm not just saying that to be cocky, it's just that I know what I'm capable of. I know the team around me. My supporting cast, my coaching - those are all the ingredients to a championship."