A retired Canadian Forces sergeant from Edmonton is celebrating a gold medal win in powerlifting at a sports competition in San Diego.
Greg Van Olm, formerly based at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton, bench pressed 166 kilograms, or 365 pounds, to take the top prize in the powerlifting event at the U.S. Marine Corps Trials this week.
The 33-year-old also won a bronze in a shot put event, military public affairs officer Kelly Boyden, told CBC News this week.
Van Olm is one of 27 members of Team Canada training for the international Invictus Games — a competition for injured, wounded and sick military personnel held in May at the Hague in Holland this year.
Five others on the team won medals in track and field and powerlifting events at the trials last week, Boyden said.
Van Olm, now an undergrad student at the University of Alberta, was modest in victory.
“Winning doesn’t really matter that much because you’ve just made so many different friends,” he said. “Everyone is there to support everyone.”
Van Olm suffers from hip, leg, knee and shoulder injuries, some of which he suffered while posted overseas and others while at work in Canada.
Team Canada’s manager, Joe Kiraly, a retired chief petty officer, said Van Olm is representative of a team that supports each other.
“Greg, I would say is a quiet leader. He leads by example and he’s always first to help out somebody who needs it,” Kiraly said. “I think that’s the sign of a real, real strong leader.”
Van Olm made an effort to ensure his teammates were warming up and comfortable, Kiraly said.
Kiraly is a communications and outreach manager with the Soldier On — a Canadian Armed Forces’ program that empowers injured military personnel, active and retired, to recover through physical activity.
“Life doesn’t stop after injury,” Kiraly said.
Soldier On supports its members in realizing that pursuit and members like Van Olm are especially appreciated.
“This can be a very emotional and anxious time for a lot of these men and women, coming off of their extended periods of struggling with their own physical or mental health injuries,” Kiraly said.
Team Canada, a mix of retired and active military members, is preparing for the Invictus Games in The Hague in May.
Van Olm said again the focus isn’t necessarily on winning but he’s staying competitive and also participating in the wheelchair rugby event as an able-body player.
“You got to give it your best,” he said.