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Junior weightlifters win medals at Ontario championships

By Tyler Renaud [1]

BELLEVILLE – Three local athletes from the  Victory Barbell Club [2] medaled in the Ontario Junior Championships this past weekend.

They competed in an Olympic weightlifting competition where athletes competed for the heaviest snatch [3] as well as clean and jerk [4].

Addison Walker, 15, earned gold in the Women’s 75 plus kilogram weight class. For the men’s: Connor Bazilsky, 13, earned gold in the 46 kilogram class, while Quinn Harvey received a bronze medal in the 69 kilogram category.

Gary Lewis, 54, is the owner of the Victory Barbell Club as well as the coach for these young weightlifters.  Lewis says, he knew what his athletes were capable of but didn’t imagine them winning it all.

“Yes, I expected them to hit the numbers (they did), but I didn’t know they were going to win gold and bronze medals,” Lewis said. “Kids from across the province compete and you have no idea who’s going to be in the weight classes.”

He added that he is pleased with the progress of his athletes.

“From what those kids were doing when they first got here, compared to what they’re doing today is incredible and every one of them started when they were 12,” he said.

Weightlifting isn’t just a hobby, its’s great way for people and children of all sizes to exercise, said Lewis.

“It gives the kids confidence. I’ve got a couple kids who are very small and their parents tried to get them to play hockey – that didn’t work out because they are a whole lot smaller than the rest of the kids on the ice and they were getting knocked around a lot,” Lewis said. “So, they weren’t having nearly as much fun playing hockey as the kids knocking them around. I said to come over and try Olympic weightlifting because you compete against people your own size.”

Lewis said he is very passionate about lifting and even jokes that he loves two things – lifting weights and people who lift weights. Adding, sharing his passion is what motivated him to start the Victory Barbell Club.

The club offers Olympic weightlifting classes for all ages and genders. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, he runs a class for women only and the oldest participant is over 70 years old. The rest of the week is dedicated to Olympic weightlifting every night at 222 Sunrise Drive in Belleville.