Sam Bigler once joked when he started lifting weights in 9th grade, he was 86 lbs., which was even lighter than the proverbial “98 lb. weakling”.
But those first small steps led to great heights, as Bigler reached the world’s stage, the 1976 Summer Olympic Games in Montreal. It was there that Bigler, a Columbia native and Millersville University graduate, placed in the top 10 … lifting 307.5 kilograms (676.5 lbs.) in the snatch, clean and jerk.
Prior to the Olympics, Bigler won gold at the Pan American Games in Brazil and finished 3rd at the Pan American Weightlifting Championships in Mexico City. He was a five-time Pennsylvania state champ.
At MU, Bigler was a four-time NCAA weightlifting champion and All-American. In the 1973 NCAAs, he lifted 400 lbs. in the clean and jerk and with his 295 lb. performance in the snatch, amassed 695 points, both championship records. He was MUs first inductee into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
A letter winner in Track & Field and Cross-Country at Columbia HS, Bigler is one of the only handful of Lancaster County natives to be named to the PA Sports Hall of Fame.