Keiran Gamble took up weightlifting five years ago, not as a competitive sport but just as a way to get more fit.
But things changed last year when the 19 year old from St. James decided to give competitive powerlifting a try.
"I needed something to push me to keep going," Gamble said. "Something fresh and something new."
With the help of his coach, Brent Lohmer, Gamble changed his workout regimen to focus on lifting the most weight possible in one repetition.
"It meant I had to have stricter form," he said. "Back then it was more a range of 10 reps. It wasn’t a powerlifting routine."
The results have spoken for themselves. Gamble, who has a very mild case of cerebral palsy, recently came back from the U.S. with three gold medals from the Special Olympics South Dakota State Summer Games.
The 140-pound John Taylor Collegiate student lifted 225 pounds to win the bench press and 250 pounds to take gold in the deadlift, a personal best. The combined total earned him a third overall medal.
"I was pretty impressed with the results," Gamble said. "I always try to outdo myself, so I was pretty happy."
Now Gamble is waiting to see if his lifts will be big enough to earn him a trip to the National Games in Vancouver this July.
"Brent’s helped me tremendously," Gamble said of his coach. "I wouldn’t even be touching the weights I touch without him. His motivation pushes me to excel at what I do."
Lifting weights four times a week at the St. James YMCA, Gamble has managed to increase his deadlift by 90 pounds in the last year. His bench press hasn’t seen the same jump, but that’s largely because the rules of powerlifting require that the bar comes to a complete stop at the bottom before the athlete attempts to lift it.
Gamble is confident if he keeps training properly, his bench press will soon see some big improvement as well.
Being part of Special Olympics has been nothing but a positive experience for Gamble. He enjoys the camaraderie that comes from being part of a larger team.
"We all come together and it doesn’t matter what disability you have," he said. "It can be cerebral palsy or Down syndrome or anything else."