Darryl Conrad is used to having the weight of expectation on his shoulders — and he thrives on it.
The 29-year-old St. Vital resident is among three weightlifters from Manitoba set to represent Canada at the 2014 Commonwealth Games this month, which will be held from Wed., July 23 to Sun., Aug. 3 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Conrad, a national medallist in the men’s 85 kg and under category, will be joined on the plane to Europe by 32-year-old Marie-Josée Arès-Pilon, who will compete in the women’s 69 kg and under category, and referee Richard Mason, who will be one of the technical officials at the games, officials say.
In Conrad’s case, the twist is that he was called up as a late replacement for another competitor and was only officially added to the team roster on July 14 having learned his inclusion was a "strong possibility" a week or so earlier. Since then, he has busy getting the money together to fund the trip and processing what could prove to be the experience of a lifetime.
"It feels good to be selected, but it hasn’t really hit me yet, as I haven’t boarded the plane," Conrad told The Lance, three days before leaving. "Sometimes in life, you finally get to reap what you sow, and this is a reward for all of those hours in the gym. I’m grateful to be going. It’s big news, but good news."
Since he started competing in 2008, Conrad has won multiple titles at the Western Canadian Weightlifting Championships, as well as medalling on the national stage and competing at the 2014 Pan American Weightlifting Championships in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
The paramedic said his last minute call-up means he has lacked the thorough preparation needed for such a high level of competition. But despite that, he hopes to do well in the competition, enjoy the experience — and maybe even take a trip to Edinburgh, if time allows.
"It’s quite exciting to go overseas. I’m hoping I’ll have a few days to see some of the other events and I have an interest in history, so hopefully I’ll have time to check a few things out," he said.
Above everything else, Conrad — who stands at 5-7 and whose competitive weight is 85 kg — loves the personal challenge of lifting weights and the overall sense of well-being he gets from the sport that enhances his mind, body and soul.
"It’s more than a sport to me; it’s a life-encompassing thing. Weightlifting teaches you about life and how actions speak louder than words. At the end of the day, you only have yourself to answer to," he said.
"I’d rather read a book about philosophies or training methods than go out and party and have a hangover the next day. That’s just not me. My diet is clean and healthy, but I still enjoy what I eat. I have a sweet tooth and I still enjoy my favourite burger once in a while."
Set to compete on Mon., July 28, Conrad credits former coach Mirek Korkowski and current coach Quinn Nguyen as integral figures in his weightlifting development.
For more information about the 2014 Commonwealth Games, visit www.glasgow2014.com
To learn more about weightlifting in the province, visit mbweightlifting.net