After returning from a 15-year absence from the sport of powerlifting three years ago, Wayne Cormier is once again a national champion.
Cormier won his seventh national championship last month in Calgary and said that his second stint as a competitive powerlifter had been a fascinating journey.
"I retired when I was 37. I lifted from 1977 to 1999," he said. "I was out of the sport as a lifter for 15 years, then almost three years ago I came out of retirement because I missed the sport. I came back with the goal of qualifying for the national powerlifting championships, and I failed on three occasions, but then finally on Decembers 30 of last year, I qualified this year."
Cormier said that throughout his return to the sport he has had to deal with adversity.
"This last 18 months I battled pneumonia, a shoulder injury, and other sicknesses and just kept plugging away at it, so it made that moment when I did capture the gold at the national championships that much more special because I knew what it took to get there."
Cormier said that the hardest part of his return was getting back into competitive shape.
"The first six months were brutal. Everything hurt all the time. Muscles, tendons, vertebrae," he said. "Powerlifting is not about using lightweight for high reps, it's a heavy weight for low reps, so there is no getting around that. You have to lift heavy. The first six months were very hard on the body, being lethargic and a non-athlete for close to 15 years it was tough, but then once you get back into the routine, back and into the groove of things it became a little less stressful on the body."
Cormier said that the constant injuries and setbacks made him question whether he still could be a competitive powerlifter.
"There was probably more than a couple of times where I thought, well maybe I'll just lift recreationally and just do it for the physical benefits, the health benefits of it," he said. "But those thoughts would quickly leave my head because to go to the gym just to be healthy is not for me, I need to be competitive, and powerlifting is my competitive sport."
He said he kept motivated as he wanted his kids to see him lift at least once and to honour the passing of one of his powerlifting friends.
"This year at the 2018 nationals I decided that I was going to dedicate the victory and the competition to one of my original powerlifter training buddies as he passed just a month ago from cancer. So I lifted for him, so that was my motivation and it kept me inspired," he said. "Also my kids are teenagers and to see their 55-year-old dad lift, for them to actually see it live, it inspired them, and it inspired me. It was really good to have my kids see me lift at least one more time."
Cormier added that at the current stage in his career he is just competing for the fun of it.
"I don't have anything more to prove, and I believe that in my heart," he said. "Whether I win another national championship, whether I retire next week or next month it's all been good. I do this for fun. I'm having fun; I enjoy the people, and it's about having fun this time around and not putting so much pressure on myself."
Cormier said that when he decides to call it a career he just wants to be remembered as a person that helped grow powerlifting in Saskatchewan.
"When I became a carded powerlifter back in 1981 in Saskatchewan, we had less than 30 members," he said. "There are now well over 400 carded athletes in Saskatchewan alone. I take a little bit of pride in the fact us guys in the late 70s and 80s, we set the table. I would like to be remembered as a person that built and helped make the sport what it is today which is highly visible."
With the gold medal win in his 15th national championship, Cormier moved on the World Championships in Finland in May but said due to a shoulder injury he might not head overseas.