The training and the straining don’t always bring gold but when they do, it’s pretty sweet.
Powerlifter Sumeet Sharma, a former student at Douglas College in Coquitlam, has converted a healthy hobby into an international passion.
And while some may ask what it’s all about, for Sharma, the feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment add up to strength.
“This was something I always wanted to do. I always knew I could lift heavy — at the first show I did in Abbotsford [in 2016], I finished second, but it was the feedback and encouragement that made me want to keep going,” Sharma said. “I just loved the experience.”
Last October, he ventured to Panama City as a member of the Canadian powerlifting team for the 14th annual International Powerlifting Federation’s North American regional bench press championships.
It’s where he found a new limit and exceeded it, holding 370 lb. above his chest to capture the top prize in the raw, non-equipped division.
For someone who only had three years of competition under his belt, capturing an international gold title was incredible.
“Just the experience of representing your country is a huge honour. Going on the podium and hearing your anthem, it was a great experience” he said.
It was just one of the medals the Iron Outlier Club member collected in 2019, which included competitions at provincials, Western Canadians and nationals.
His decision to compete in the raw division — where an athlete attempts to press weights without a upper-torso belt — has been his choice since the first few competitions.
And the Justice Institute grad said the community of lifters has given him incentive to keep going, to add another couple of pounds to each attempt.
It continued in Panama after he set a personal record.
“They’ve pumped me up to achieve 400 [lb.] and that’s been my goal ever since,” Sharma said.
That encouragement is something he is eager to pay forward by helping instruct youth in the sport. Working with B.C. Corrections, physical fitness and strength are important parts of the job.
Sharma said they are elements that give him a source of pride and achievement that, as a pudgy teenager, he didn’t have when he was younger.
“Ultimately, my goal is two things: one is to eventually go to worlds and win gold for Canada; and two is, with the experience of powerlifting, I want to coach kids and youth and help them get to the next level,” Sharma said, adding, “It’s some way I can give back to those who’ve helped me.”