Sports

Maple Ridge weightlifter bound for Belfast

Maple Ridge corrections officer Vince Martin trains at Champion Athletic Club in preparation for the 2013 World Police and Fire Games in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Martin won gold in the push/pull event, which combines the bench press and dead lift, at the 2009 and 2011 games.  - Colleen Flanagan
Maple Ridge corrections officer Vince Martin trains at Champion Athletic Club in preparation for the 2013 World Police and Fire Games in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Martin won gold in the push/pull event, which combines the bench press and dead lift, at the 2009 and 2011 games.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan

Vince Martin gets to see the worst of the worst on a daily basis. As a corrections officer and member of the regional emergency response team, Martin routinely finds himself in dangerous situations. Prison riots and hostage rescues are all in a day’s work.

Given the dangerous nature of his job, it’s not surprising that Martin spends as much time as he does training at the gym. The Maple Ridge resident holds the World Police and Fire Games record for the “push/pull” event, which combines the bench press and dead lift.

Martin is hoping to compete in the 2013 World Police and Fire Games in Belfast, Northern Ireland, next year.

Martin won gold in the 2009 Games, when they were held in Vancouver. Last year, he travelled to New York, where he defended his title.

But in his work as a corrections officer and in competition as a weight-lifter, his most relied-upon muscle is often his brain, not his biceps.

“A good day is when you can diffuse a situation quickly, and not have to rely on your muscles,” he says.

Strategy often trumps brute force, and ensures Martin gets home to his wife, Heather, and his three sons, in one piece.

Similarly, strategy can play a key role in weightlifting as well.

At the 2011 World Police and Fire Games, Martin realized a loophole in rules and increased the weight for his final lift while his closest competitor was in the middle of their final lift.

That meant the competitor couldn’t increase his weight to match or beat Martin’s.

Martin successfully lifted his final weight, and earned his second gold medal at the Games.

“Knowing the rules and using them to your advantage is part of competition,” he says. “I like to joke that I pick things up and put them down again, but obviously there’s a lot more too it than that.”

At 41 years old, Martin’s training regimen is also strategic.

He’s changed his routine to allow his body more time for recovery, which means longer, more intense workouts, less often.

“If you overtrain you can burn yourself out, and that’s how you get sick or injured,” he says.

Martin now only works out every other day, instead of going two to three days in a row before taking a day off for rest.

The plan seems to be working.

Martin bench presses in excess of 400 pounds, and can dead lift more than 625 pounds. Last year at the 2011 World Police and Fire Games in New York, he lifted a combined 1,022 pounds, breaking the Games record, which he set two earlier in Vancouver.

Martin started weight-lifting while in high school, part of his training as a member of the wrestling and rugby teams. He began competing in a body building competitions in his late 20s, and went as far as the Western Canadian championships in 1999 and 2003.

However, Martin didn’t discover competitive weight-lifting until later in life.

“I was always told by my friends and gym partners that I was strong for my size,” he says. “[The World Police and Fire Games] came to Vancouver, so I thought I’d give it a shot.”

One of the many people that encouraged Martin to compete was Steve Moghari, owner of Champion Athletic Club in Maple Ridge, where Martin trains.

“They’ve been a great support at the gym,” says Martin.

But his biggest supporter has been his wife, Heather.

“She keeps my head screwed straight,” he says. “Without her, I wouldn’t be able to balance my job, training, being a dad, and being a husband.

“I wouldn’t be able to do it without her.”

Despite the fact he’ll competing against fellow law enforcement officers and firefighters 10 to 15 years younger than him next year in Belfast, Martin says he is hoping to top 1,150 pounds combined, breaking his old record and setting a new personal best.

Being one of the oldest competitors in his division just adds more motivation.

“I like kicking the young guys’ butts,” he says.

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