Hot off the (bench) press! This Douglas grad won gold for Canada

By Carly Whetter, Foundation and Alumni Relations

When Sumeet Sharma first came to Douglas College, he had no idea he’d graduate with both an education and a new outlook on his health.

“Back when I was in high school, I ate a lot of junk food and didn’t take care of myself,” says Sumeet, who graduated with a diploma in Criminology and now works in B.C. corrections. “When I went to Douglas, I took a few Sport Science electives, and the information really resonated with me. I knew if I wanted to live a healthier lifestyle I had to change my habits.”

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A new lease on life

Sumeet started going to the gym and eating healthier. He eventually decided to venture into weightlifting.

“I really did my homework,” Sumeet says. “I spoke to other people who lifted and watched YouTube videos so I could do it safely. When I started working out regularly, I realized I had a lot of energy and strength. I wanted to see where I could go.” 

In 2015, Sumeet started powerlifting – a heavyweight strength sport that focuses on three attempts at squat, bench press or deadlift at a maximum weight – with the help of a coach. After finishing second place in his first competition in 2016 and qualifying for the provincial championship, he hasn’t looked back.

“It was such a positive experience, and everyone was amazing – from the other competitors, to the audience and volunteers – and that’s what really encouraged me to keep going,” says Sumeet.

Since 2016, Sumeet has been taking Canada’s powerlifting competitions by storm, specializing in bench press. His successes include the B.C. Provincial Championships and Commonwealth Championships, each trip to the podium qualifying him for the next tier of powerlifting.

At the North American Regional Bench Press Championships in October, Sumeet won gold for Canada in raw, non-equipped bench press, a category where athletes compete without the assistance of an upper torso belt. After bench pressing 160kg at the Canadian Powerlifting Union National Championships this week, Sumeet placed first. His win qualified him for the World Powerlifting Championships in May, in the Czech Republic.

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Giving back to the community

In the wake of his success, Sumeet has begun sharing his story at schools in the Lower Mainland, covering everything from powerlifting, to health, to careers in corrections.

After his first presentation, he was hooked.

“There were kids with disabilities, depression and anxiety who approached me and asked a lot of questions. Sitting down and talking with them warmed my heart,” Sumeet says. “I hope I made a little bit of difference in their lives.  “Now that I work in corrections, I see a lot of kids who are on the wrong path,” he adds. “So I try to tell them my story and what motivates me to encourage them to pursue their dreams.”

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