Tuesday, May 17, 2022

'Mighty Mammoths' raise the bar at first powerlifting competition


It was a weekend of firsts for Special Olympics Yukon and three athletes. On April 30, Zachary Louie, Michael Sumner, and Gaetan Michaud, along with their coaches and mission staff, headed to Abbotsford, B.C. to compete in the 2022 SOBC Super Summer Series – their first ever powerlifting competition.


The “Mighty Mammoths” began training in powerlifting two years ago but haven’t travelled because of the pandemic. For the three athletes, it was their first competition Outside since COVID-19 shuttered the world.


A successful first competition


Louie finished second in his division with a personal best in the squat – athletes performed a squat, deadlift, and benchpress at the competition.


Making Louie’s personal best in the squat even more impressive is that’s the type of lift he, and his teammates practiced the least.


Louie was inspired to try powerlifting after taking part in the development games.


“Powerlifting helps make me strong,” said Louie.


Before competing in Abbotsford, Louie gave a powerlifting demonstration at the Special Olympics Dinner Auction in front of more than 300 people.


That gave him the confidence to perform, he said.


Now that he knows what a competition is like, Louie said he’s going to continue on his powerlifting journey and hopefully go and compete again.


Louie also said he hopes that more of his Special Olympic teammates get inspired to try powerlifting.


The Lion


Michaud was nicknamed “the Lion” by a competition announcer after he let out big yells after each lift. His power yell helped Michaud place first in his division and accomplish a personal best in deadlift and bench.


“I was in such a zone that I was so pumped,” said Michaud. “It’s such an adrenaline rush.”


These successes, Michaud said, were in part because of the coaches Courtney Dill and Graham Leslie.


“I was a little nervous but when you have experienced coaches they make you feel comfortable,” said Michaud. “We learned so much in the past year.”


Michaud said he was proud of himself for hitting two personal bests, but also he enjoyed watching his teammates succeed also.


“Mike Sumner, and Zachery Louie, I couldn’t be more proud,” said Michaud.


Welcome to beast-mode 


Sumner finished his first powerlifting competition by winning his division.


“I thought it went amazing,” said Sumner. “I was a bit nervous the day of, but then I went beast-mode from there. I was happy with my performance and the medal was a bonus.”


Not only did he win his division, but Sumner also hit two personal bests in deadlift and benchpress.


“Those are my favourite lifts,” said Sumner.


Sumner acknowledged that he couldn’t have had the success he did without his coaches and teammates.


“They were all a great support,” said Sumner.


Now that’s he back in the Yukon, Sumner said he’s going to continue with powerlifting.


“It’s fun, it’s the perfect workout,” said Sumner.