‘Weight’ just a minute, Kelownians are strong!
The Canadian Olympic weightlifting championships were held in Kelowna over the May long weekend and Kelowna lifters were ‘strong’ competitors.
Christine Col, Mitchel Luck, Kayla Shepard and Mike Bencsik of the Vikings weightlifting club, coached by Guy Greavette, performed exceptionally well.
Shepard said that without the hard work of coach Greavette, Kelowna would not have had the opportunity to host such a large weightlifting competition.
“The best weightlifters from across the country were competing here to get the title,” said Shepard.
The powerful 23 year old female athlete came in second, losing only to an Olympian, in the 59kg category.
“This was the first time I was competing for a spot on the podium [at Nationals] and not just competing to do my best,” said Shepard.
In her first high-stakes competition, Shepard achieved a four kilogram personal best in the ‘snatch’ lift.
Despite being only four years into the sport, Shepard was able to bring a calculated yet calm demeanor to the high-stakes competition. She attributes her cool confidence to the mentorship she receives from her coach and teammates and from her past experiences as a competitive snowboard cross racer.
“Mike (Bencsik) and Guy have played a big role in my development,” said Shepard.
Bencsik has been training and working to build the lifting community in Kelowna for over 11 years.
He began lifting in middle school after being cut from the rugby team. Through lifting Bencsik said he gained the physical strength he set out to build in order to make the team the next season. He said that he also developed mental strength and a love of the sport that has enabled him to continue lifting at the high level he is at today.
“Talent doesn’t go far when talent doesn’t work hard,” said Bencsik. He attributes his successes in lifting to his hard work and mental fortitude, which he considered to be a central aspect of Olympic lifting.
Bencsik placed second overall in the Championships in his division of 109kg and over. He was surprised by his strong performance after being sidelined the last six weeks in order to rest some injuries.
Bencsik is looking forward to his next competition at the Pan American Games.