Friday, 12 January 2018 05:31

Powerlifter used last chance to qualify for national championships

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Swift Current powerlifter Wayne Cormier used the final opportunity available to qualify for the upcoming national championships in Calgary.


He competed at the Last Chance powerlifting meet in Moose Jaw, Dec. 30, and lifted a total of 505 kilogram. This was 2.5 kilogram more than the required weight to qualify for the 2018 Canadian Powerlifting Union national championships, which will take place in Calgary from Feb. 19-24.
“It was a big one, very big,” he said. “I’ve tried to qualify in the last two-and-a-half years for the three-lift, full powerlifting national championships. It has been the goal for two-and-a-half years and if I had not have qualified at this competition – it was my last chance – then I was going to retire from three-lift competition. The journey has been fun, but it’s taking its toll.”
He has already qualified for the bench press only competition at nationals at a previous tournament, but since his return to the sport in 2015 his goal has been to qualify for the three-lift competition (squat, bench press, and deadlift).
His dream is to have an opportunity to qualify at the upcoming national championships for the next International Powerlifting Federation's world powerlifting championships, which will take place in Calgary in June 2018.
Cormier, who will be 55 in early February, has been struggling with injury and illness during 2017. It prevented him from qualifying earlier for the three-lift competition at nationals.
He suffered from pneumonia in early 2017, which kept him out of the gymnasium for 60 days. He tore his shoulder shortly after resuming his training program, and it caused another 35 to 40 day setback to his schedule.
“It was small enough to not prevent me from lifting, but significant enough that the training cycle had to be very conservative, and lots of therapy,” he said. “So there was a lot of pressure, but the day could not have gone better.”
His intensive preparation for the Last Chance powerlifting meet started 20 weeks before the event took place.
“I’ve been training all along, but I didn’t focus in on the actual workload until 20 weeks,” he explained. “Week 10 is a week of cross-training or lighter weights, and then the remaining nine weeks are again full tilt. ... I trained three hours a day, six days a week, for this contest, with Sunday being the day of rest.”
He competed in the 105 kilogram weight class in the Master 2 age category (50-59 years) and experienced no difficulties with his lifts for the squat and bench press. He made a 180 kilogram squat lift and a 137.7 kilogram lift on the bench press.
He lifted 187.5 kilogram during his third and final deadlift attempt, but it was not allowed due to a technicality. One judge considered the lift to be good, but two judges felt he released the bar too soon as he lowered the weights. This resulted in a tense moment for Cormier because his second deadlift was not sufficient to allow him to qualify for nationals and he only had 60 seconds to appeal the decision.
“In normal circumstances, in an everyday contest, I would not have appealed it, but bearing the importance of that lift, the 177.5 kilogram wouldn’t have given me enough to qualify,” he said.
He immediately looked at a video of his third attempt, which he felt was a good lift, and he appealed the decision. The appeal was allowed and he made the same deadlift of 187.5 kilogram for a second time, which gave him the required total to qualify for nationals.
“There was about five minutes there where I honestly didn’t know which way it was going to go, but I had to stay focused,” he said. “I really had to focus on what I had to do, and never did it occur to me that I would not get an appeal. It just was not a possibility for me after everything that I’ve gone through in the last two-and-a-half years to do this.”
His sense of relief to qualify was even more intense because in 2016 at the provincial tournament he missed qualifying for the three-lift at nationals by less than 16 kilogram.
“That was pretty disappointing, but it was my fault that I didn’t, because I made a mistake,” he recalled. “This time I made no mistakes, and it’s a huge relief to qualify.”
As a bonus his lifts at the Last Chance powerlifting meet resulted in two new provincial records in the Master 2 105 kilogram weight class. His squat lift of 180 kilogram broke the previous record by about 34 kilogram and his three-lift total of 505 kilogram was about 45 kilogram more than the previous record.
“I didn’t know until they told me,” he said. “I didn’t look at records, I looked at what my total was that I had to lift. ... That’s kind of cool. I’m not even trying to set records. I’m trying to qualify.”
He will be competing at his fourteenth national championship in Calgary. He is expecting tough competition and he is confident of a top five finish, but to reach the world championship will require a top two finish and lifting a qualifying total.
“That would be my seventh world championship, if I make it to that one,” he said. “It’s not easy to get to these things, you know. I forgot how hard it was. When I was young I must have been really strong, because I don’t remember it being this hard.”
Cormier previously retired from powerlifting in 1999 after 22 years of competitive lifting due to injuries, but also as a result of career and family commitments. He has remained active in the sport as an administrator, referee and coach, and he has been inducted into both the Canadian Powerlifting Union Hall of Fame and the Saskatchewan Powerlifting Association Hall of Fame as a builder.
In 2015 he came out of retirement because he still felt the need to compete as an athlete and to create new memories as a competitor.
“I wasn’t ready for the rocking chair,” he said. “I was not ready to grow old, because I still had something inside of me. ... I do it because I can do it and I love doing it. Powerlifting has been my life. I started when I was 14. I don’t know anything else.”
While his competitive spirit is still strong, his goal now is to focus more on the journey as an athlete.
“I’m trying to enjoy the journey, I’m trying to enjoy the new people that I meet, the old people that I re-meet, and I’m trying to enjoy the new kids that I’m coaching,” he said. “I’m trying to enjoy the experience this time, and not get caught up solely in winning.”

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Matthew Liebenberg

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