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Champs at hoisting iron

Other sports led Winnipeg pair to weightlifting

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What do bobsledding and volleyball have in common with weightlifting?

As far as Darryl Conrad and Christa Desrochers of Winnipeg are concerned, if it hadn't been for the first two sports, they wouldn't be in lifting, the sport they love most today.

Each won gold medals Saturday at the Western Canadian Weightlifting Championships, held at the Dakota Recreational Centre. In doing so, they qualified for the national championships May 22-23 in Montreal.

Conrad won the men's 85-kilogran division with a total lift of 291 kilograms, hoisting a snatch of 130 kg and a clean and jerk of 161 kg. Desrochers was the women's 69-kg champion, with lifts of 66 kg and 85 kg for a 151-kg total. Also qualifying for nationals was Winnipegger Jordan Ducheminsky, who finished third to Conrad with a snatch of 105 kg and a clean and jerk of 150 kg for a 255-kg total.

Other gold medals for Manitoba were won by Enrique Wiebe and Eric Mazur. Wiebe won the men's 62-kg division (70, 91, 161). Mazur won the men's 69-kg section, (87, 108, 195). Anne Marie Young took bronze in the women's 53-kg division (36, 43, 79).

"I did bodybuilding, played rugby and went on to bobsledding," said Conrad, explaining his evolution to weightlifting. "A couple of years ago, as part of the Own the Podium program, they did a selection camp for bobsled and I decided, 'Why can't I do that?' Then I developed tendinitis in both my calves and weightlifting was the only thing that didn't give me any pain, so I just kind of stuck with it. So far, I have been blessed to this point, and hope to keep it going. I'm not really sorry (bobsledding didn't work out); that is kind of what life is."

Desrochers only wanted to improve her vertical jump for volleyball. "I actually started out as a volleyball player at the University of Winnipeg. I heard that this sport helps your vertical (jump)."

The results, say Desrochers, were amazing.

"Did it ever (work)," she said. "I improved my block jump by at least a couple of inches. It builds up your glutes, quads, hamstrings and all your jumping muscles. As opposed to getting bulky, you develop a lot of fast-twitch muscle fibres. You get more denser, beneficial kind of muscles for jumping."

Her last year of playing for the U of W was 2006, but she still plays beach volleyball and coaches the provincial team in summer.

"I am definitely going to stick with this sport," she said. "I love the fact that it's a very mental sport and it requires so much dedication. It's something that you can control on your own and it has a different sort of feel than a team sport, and I like that."

Conrad isn't going to leave weightlifting anytime soon either. The 25-year-old University of Manitoba graduate is still single and believes this is his time to indulge himself before settling down. "This is the only chance in life to be selfish, but five or six years down the road, it definitely comes down to family and kids, but right now this is my time."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 29, 2010 C4

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