CALGARY - Middleton’s Derek Smith is a world champion – not just in one event, but in three at the 2018 International Powerlifting Federation Classic World Championships held this week in Calgary.
That makes him the overall winner as well. Four golds.
“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet that I am the best in the world. It’s crazy to believe and it’s been a long time coming,” said Smith in an interview before flying home with his medals early June 13. “It’s a pretty cool feeling and something I can add to the resume!”
Smith went into the Worlds with four provincial and three national powerlifting records in the sub-junior category – 14 to 18 years old. He walked away from Worlds with gold in Squat, Bench, and Deadlift.
See also: World Contender
“Leading up to the competition I was honestly probably the most relaxed I’ve ever felt going into a competition,” he said. “I had little expectations going in. I knew that I’d be competing against the best in the world. I was just going for the experience. I never thought I’d win but I definitely didn’t put it out of the question.”
Smith won the overall competition by 140 pounds.
“I knew I had done the work. There was no chance of getting any stronger at this point,” he said. “All I had to worry about on competition day was gearing up mentally and going out there. I can remember walking into the venue and just absolutely getting chills. I couldn’t believe that I made it this far or that I was here.”
On June 12, Smith’s category was up. There was a slight schedule change, but he competed about 5 p.m. Nova Scotia time.
“It was incredible,” said Smith. “Along the way I hit a 535 pounds squat. I attempted a Canadian record at 562 pounds but just missed it. I had a bench press of 352 pounds tying a personal best of mine. In the deadlift I pulled a personal best and Canadian record of 600 pounds even.”
That last gold was especially significant.
“This was the highlight of the day for me. I’ve been chasing 600 pounds for awhile and it’s finally off my back,” he said. “I finished with a total of 1,487 pounds breaking the Canadian total record.”
For the past five months Smith has been training four to five days a week.
“Every day I stretched for 45 minutes,” he said. “Nothing overly changed too much in my training other then I was consistent and made sure I hit every rep and set. I had to make sure that I also got the proper rest, most nights trying to get a minimum of 8-1/2 hours sleep.”
Most of that training was done a short walk from Smith’s home in Middleton at Fitness Experience, an old warehouse beside the abandoned railway track that was converted into a world-class training centre.
“Being from a small town of 2,000 and becoming a Canadian and World champion, it just shows that any person can do anything at any given time, you just have to work for it,” said Smith. “Everyone in the town of Middleton is so supportive of everyone and what they do. It’s great to see. For a small town of 2,000, we’ve produced some amazing athletes over the years.”
With the world wins under his belt, Smith will have to work even harder now.
“I’ll need to start back at the bottom and work my way back up for powerlifting as I’ll be moving age and weight divisions next year,” he said.
He’ll be taking his own advice as he starts again.
“For anyone wanting to try not only a sport but anything in life, I say you’ve just got to do it. You’re going to fail, but you will never learn if you don’t fail,” Smith said. “Over the past five years of lifting, I’ve had many failures but if you asked me what has helped me get to where I am today, I’d tell you learning from my mistakes is one of the biggest. It caused me to focus and pay attention more to what I was doing and how I was doing it. Just do it, you can’t worry about what anyone says or does themselves.”
But Smith said he wouldn’t have made it this far without a lot of help, and in Middleton there were many people in his corner.
“There’s been so many different people that have helped me get to where I am today,” he said. “All the people who have fundraised for me to get to my competitions. My friends who have always supported me. My family who has always supported me in any way, shape, or form. My massage, osteopaths, and physiotherapists who have helped my body stay healthy.”
He had big kudos for the gym where he’s trained for years.
“Fitness Experience, that gym has been the most supportive group of people I’ve ever met,” he said. “I can never say enough good stuff about this place. It means the world to me. My coaches/training partners, Danny Steele, Danny Frame, Jim Nickerson, Jamie Peppard, and Chris Llewelyn.”
While Smith is the world powerlifting champion in his category, he started out in highland games years ago when Danny Frame approached him. Now that summer is almost here, that’s what Smith will be focusing on.
“The Highland games consists of eight events,” he said.
There’s the Bramar stone, open stone, heavy weight for distance, light weight for distance, heavy hammer, light hammer, weight for height, and the world-famous caber toss.
“It’s a lot of fun and you get to meet great new people,” I’ll compete six different times over the summer with my first competition being in Pugwash and ending in Calgary.
At Worlds on June 12 Smith won:
-- Gold Medal Squat – 535 pounds
-- Gold Medal Bench – 352 pounds tying a person best
-- Gold Medal Deadlift – 600 pounds (new Canadian record)
-- Gold Medal Overall Total – 1,487 pounds (new Canadian record)