Friday, 09 March 2018 10:25

Swift Current powerlifter wins gold at national championships

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Swift Current powerlifter Wayne Cormier won gold in the bench press only competition at the 2018 Canadian Powerlifting Union National Championships and qualified for the upcoming International Powerlifting Federation World Open bench press championships in Finland.


He also participated in the three-lift competition at nationals and finished in fourth place with a lift total that was only 2.5 kilograms less than the total of the bronze medal winner.
The national championships took place in Calgary from Feb. 19-24. He competed in his fourteenth national championships and it was a good feeling to be there.
“I didn’t miss a beat,” he said. “It felt like home. … I was at the 2016 nationals and I didn’t feel out of place, and I didn’t feel out of place at this one. I felt that I belong there. I felt confident and seeing a lot of the older lifters that I used to compete with now in positions of coaching and refereeing was like a reunion.”
He also saw some of the younger lifters that he coached 15 years ago. They are now in their mid to late thirties and very competitive.
“They’re in their prime now and watching them lift was very exciting,” he said.
Cormier celebrated his 55th birthday a few weeks before the championships. He competed in the 105-kilogram weight class in the Master 2 age category (50-59 years).
He faced two days of intense competition, which started on Feb. 20 with the bench press only contest. He won gold and qualified for the world bench press championships with his second lift of 135 kilograms. His third lift of 145 kilograms was not successful.
“I got it three quarters of the way up, and I couldn’t lock out my arms,” he explained. “Technically what happened was that three-quarters of the way up my shoulders spread. So my technique was flawed.”
The third lift was actually more focused on his preparation for the next day’s three-lift competition.
“We experimented because we wanted to know if I could do it the next day in the three-lift competition,” he said. “So it was sort of a warm-up to see if I could do it.”
It was quite an emotional day for him to win his seventh bench press championship, which he dedicated to a long-time friend and fellow powerlifter Mark Michel, who passed away in January after a long battle with cancer.
“It was 40 years ago almost to the day that he and I lifted together,” Cormier recalled. “I told Mark’s wife I’m lifting for Mark today, and it was good because it kept me focused.”
His goal the next day in the three-lift competition was to win bronze, because he knew the qualifying totals of the two top powerlifters in the group was out of his reach. His second squat was not allowed due to a technicality, and he realized his third attempt would be crucial to keep his medal hopes alive.
“There was a lot of pressure to make that third lift, because we knew that we would be in a dog fight to get that bronze medal,” he said.
He was able to squat 182.5 kilograms, which improved his own provincial record for the squat in this weight and age class with 2.5 kilograms.
Thereafter he lifted 137.5 kilograms on the bench press with his second attempt, but then made the same technical error as the previous day when he tried 140 kilograms on his third attempt. That error was another crucial moment for him in the three-lift competition.
“It put a lot of pressure going into the deadlifts, and my deadlifts at this point are a little behind in development because of past hip problems,” he said.
He started light with a first lift of 165 kilograms to secure a qualifying total for the deadlift, and then lifted 190 kilograms on his second attempt, but his third lift of 205 kilograms was unsuccessful.
“I needed 205 for the win,” he said. “If you look at the video, I got it up and then it pulled out and then I dropped it, because it went away from my body. So that’s sport. I knew that I lost. I knew that I didn’t get bronze.”
He finished fourth with a three-lift total of 510 kilograms, which broke his own provincial record for the three-lift with five kilograms. He set the previous record in December when he qualified for the national championships.
He was disappointed to miss a medal in the three-lift, but after some discussion with his coach he realized it was still a good result in view of the challenges he overcame during the past year. He missed 100 days of training due to pneumonia, a shoulder injury, and two respiratory infections.
“In years down the road I will remember the journey more than I will remember where I finished,” he mentioned. “I said this since I came out of retirement. I want to appreciate the journey, because that’s life. … That’s the important thing now at my age. It’s nice to be champion and it’s nice to have a medal, but for me it’s important that I appreciate the journey.”
Cormier must still decide before the end of March if he will compete at the world bench press championships in Finland in May. That will depend on his physical condition, because he suffered shoulder trauma as a result of two days of intense competition in Calgary.
“Doing six maximum lifts within 24 hours in the bench plus the warm-ups that are involved is a lot of trauma, and my shoulders have always been somewhat of an issue over the course of 35 years,” he said. “So I’ve got some healing to do, and I’ve got the month of March before I have to make a decision.”
He previously competed at six world championships and in 1998 he won a bronze medal in Atlanta, Georgia. He is therefore not feeling compelled to attend the world championships.
“I’m in a state of mind where I have no pressure,” he said. “I’m doing this because I want to have fun and I’m doing it because I can and I’m doing it because I love the sport.”

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Matthew Liebenberg

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