If the coronavirus hadn’t forced the postponement and relocation of the world powerlifting championships, Sumeet Sharma would be preparing to fly to the Czech Republic about now.
Instead, the champion Canadian powerlifter was delivering donated meals, snack bars and water to frontline medical staff at Langley Memorial Hospital.
A gold medalist who bench pressed 370 pounds at the North American championships last October, a masked and gloved Sharma quickly unloaded the supplies from his van onto a waiting trolley cart at the hospital main entrance Monday morning (May 4th).
Sharma explained his sponsors, the Raga restaurant in Vancouver and Supplement King in Surrey, decided to contribute to the COVID-19 battle after his trip was cancelled.
“We wanted to give back to the health care workers,” Sharma told the Langley Advance Times.
He’s been visiting different hospitals in the Lower Mainland to show support of the powerlifting community for the work the medical staff are doing.
“We hear how much [effort] they’re putting in, day in, day out,” Sharma commented.
“We want to thank them for all they are doing for our community. “
Sharma, a 33-year-old corrections officer who lives in Vancouver and works in Surrey, has relatives who are working on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis, including a cousin who is a doctor in India.
In early March, just before sporting events started shutting down, Sharma won first place in his weight division at the Canadian Powerlifting Union National Championships in Winnipeg.
That qualified him for the world championships, which were were scheduled for the middle of May, but have since been postponed till October, and relocated to Russia.
After his win for Team Canada, Sharma has become a motivational guest speaker at local Lower Mainland schools, recounting how he transformed himself from an overweight, unfit person.
“I didn’t take care of my health,” he recalled.
When Sharma decided to get healthy, he went from 210 to 170 pounds in about eight weeks and discovered he had a talent for powerlifting, especially in the bench press, which he specializes in.
Since 2016, when he started competing, Sharma’s medal haul has included gold in both 2017 and 2018 at the Western Powerlifting Championships, as well as a silver at at the Commonwealth Powerlifting Championship in Newfoundland last September.
“Anything is possible if you out in the time and effort,” he tells students.
On Monday, he had the same message of encouragement for the people fighting COVID-19.
Powerlifting consists of three lifts, the bench press where the athlete is lifting the weight off his or chest, the squat, which consist of a deep knee bend with the weight across the shoulders, and the deadlift, where the weight is lifted from the floor.