INSTEAD of feeling frustrated and sorry for himself when the COVID-19 pandemic brought about the cancellation of the world powerlifting championship last year, national champion powerlifter Sumeet Sharma of B.C. decided to reach out to healthcare workers by donating food supplies to them in different hospitals: Vancouver General Hospital, Richmond Hospital, Surrey Memorial Hospital, Abbotsford Regional Hospital, Langley Memorial Hospital, St. Paul’s Hospital and Mount Saint Joseph Hospital.
“And we will continue to go to a local hospital each week,” Sharma told The VOICE, noting that his sponsors are an Indian restaurant, Raga, and a workout and nutrition products retailer, Supplement King.
They also started to donate food supplies to teachers at schools in Burnaby, Richmond and other cities in the Lower Mainland.
The idea was also to encourage others to do the same.
Early last year, Sharma won first place at the Canadian Powerlifting Union National Championships in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in the 93 kg weight category, bench pressing 160 kg.
The year before, Sharma, who works in BC Corrections, had bagged a gold medal for Team Canada at the North American Powerlifting Championships in Panama City.
Powerlifting is a strength sport that consists of three attempts at maximum weight on any of three lifts: squat, bench press, and deadlift. Sumeet bagged gold in both 2017 and 2018 at the Western Powerlifting Championships. He also placed 4th in powerlifting in Canada in 2018.
As a result of these successes, he was chosen to represent Canada at the Commonwealth Powerlifting Championship in Newfoundland in 2019 where he bagged a silver medal in bench press.
After winning first place at Winnipeg last year, Sharma was selected to represent Canada at the world powerlifting championship in Czech Republic last May. It was then moved to Russia last October, but had to be cancelled because of COVID-19.
And now the International Powerlifting Federation has selected him to represent Team Canada in Kazakhstan this fall.
Sharma told The VOICE that he decided to use all the funds that his sponsors had collected for him to head to the competition in Czech Republic last May to donate food supplies to frontline workers.
Back in November 2019, The VOICE called Sharma “a good role model for South Asian youths.”
Subsequently, he was featured on Surrey radio stations and he expressed his desire to reach out to school kids. Some teachers then invited him to their schools and he started inspiring kids in Richmond, Abbotsford and Surrey, talking about his struggles and achievements.
“I was just one of those kids in high school that was quite overweight and ate deep-fried food and bought lunch from vending machines,” he told The VOICE in February 2020. “When I went to Douglas College, I took some health science classes and that really changed my perspective. I started talking to trainers, instructors and getting into fitness. I was about 210 lb. With dieting and eating right I went down to 173 lb within six to eight months.”
He added: “I talk to the kids about my four years of powerlifting with all the championships I’ve won – like losing and winning and telling them what I went through to get the gold medal.”
But he pointed out: “I am not telling these students you should go into powerlifting, but I am telling them that my dream had always been to win a gold medal for the country and I’ve done it. And if I can do it, you guys can do it – whether they want to be a doctor or a lawyer or a nurse or a businessperson, whatever.”
Vancouver’s Ross Street Gurdwara heard about this and honoured him with an award.