Karam Gill sets new B.C. record

Hope teenager places third at provincial weightlifting championships

Fifteen-year-old Karam Gill set a new B.C. record in the bench press for his age at the BC Power Lifting Association provincials

It can’t be certain that 15-year-old Karam Gill will reach his goal of becoming an Olympic wrestler… but one that is certain: he is putting in all the ground work — and then some — to get himself closer to his dream.

Along the path to the ultimate goal, other opportunities open up, such as last month’s B.C. Power Lifting Association provincial championships, where Gill placed third against six lifters who were all older than him. He also set a new provincial record for his age in the bench press: 120 kilograms (265 pounds.)

“I wasn’t really expecting to go this far,” said Gill on Monday, while taking a break at Hope’s Reflexions gym. “It’s more of an aid to my wrestling.”

Gill trains three times a week with Boota Dhinsa at the Guru Gobind Singh wrestling club in Abbotsford. That covers the wrestling strategies and techniques — but for strength training, Gill travels back to Abbotsford three more times, to do work with Joel Klassen.

Any days off?

“Friday,” he said, “but then I come here to train.”

Klassen, who Gill said squatted 340 kg (750 lbs) at the Canadian nationals two years ago, invited Gill to the B.C. championships which were held on Granville Island on June 21 and 22.

“They had squats, dead lifts and bench press but I just went for the bench press,” said Gill. It was his first time being in such competitions.

Just like jockeys, boxers and wrestlers, weightlifters have fluctuations in their weight and can control some of it through water intake and water shedding.

“For five days, I had been drinking eight liters of water a day,” said Gill, who weighed 95 kg on Monday.

“I had to lose seven pounds of water to get into the 93 kilo class,” he said, grinning. “I made lots of trips to the washroom.”

The group he was in was meant for age 16 to 19 lifters but Gill said his coach vouched for him that he had lifted 115 kilos, so he was allowed to enter.

Gill warmed up in the prep area, with half weights and reps of 10, then came out and chalked his back and hands and got his wrists wrapped.

“You chalk your back because they want to see you arch your back when you lift,” he explained.

“You get three attempts. I started with 235 pounds and found that was easy, so I went with 255 on my second try — then on the last try, 265.”

Between attempts, the other six lifters took their turns.

“They have four judges and a spotter,” Gill said. “Everything is slow. They say ‘Unrack,’ then ‘Start’ and you bring the weights down.

“Then you have to hold the bar against your chest for a second or two and they say ‘Press.’ You have to hold it at the top for a few seconds, then they say ‘Rack.’

“I’ve done 275 pounds at the gym before, with no commands and pauses,” he added.

Gill’s official 120 kg (265 lb) lift broke the old B.C. record of 105 kg (231 lb), set two years ago.

The winning lift, by an 18-year-old, was 147 kg (325 lbs). Gill’s best gave him a bronze medal in his weight class.

Gill’s dad, Harry, accompanied his son at the competition. Karam figures his dad could maybe press 135 pounds now. “But back in the day, he pressed 315.”

Gill plans to train through the summer and started power clean lifting on Wednesday at the Abbotsford gym.