Powerlifting pays off for Winterton native
Brian George to be inducted into Canadian Forces Sports Hall of Fame
When Master Cpl. Brian George was 15, his mother Anne bought him a set of weights so he could train in the basement of the family home in Winterton, Trinity Bay.
Some 25 years later, George is set to become the first powerlifter to be inducted into the Canadian Forces Sports Hall of Fame.
This follows a stellar career that has seen him bring home national medals, help get Canada noticed on the international powerlifting stage, and routinely lift the equivalent of a V8 engine block.
George was notified by the selection committee earlier this month, and will be officially inducted during a special ceremony in Ottawa in November.
He described the honour as “overwhelming,” but at only 40-years-ofage, has no intention of lightening the load on his lifting career.
George hopes to compete at the national powerlifting championships later this year, and said he is “ feeling good” about his chances, despite recent surgery.
George is currently posted to CFB Shearwater, Nova Scotia, where he works as an aircraft maintenance engineer on helicopters such as the venerable Sea King.
He spent years lifting weights in basements and garages before starting to compete in his 20s.
George started competing in Highland Games and strongman competitions when he was posted to 14 Wing Greenwood.
One day at the gym, a friend suggested he try powerlifting.
“ I’d already been training for years,” George explained, “so I went to a competition in Middleton, Nova Scotia, and I thought ‘I like this.’”
That year, George went on to compete in Yarmouth and Windsor, Nova Scotia, before placing third overall at the national competition in Calgary. Since then, he hasn’t taken a break, shattering a number of provincial and national records.
On the international stage
Since his first year on the competitive circuit, George has won five bronze medals at the military nationals. In 2005, he represented Canada at the Commonwealth powerlifting championships in England, where he placed third in his weight category.
In 2006, George was a finalist for the air force athlete of the year award, and a year later, placed 13th overall at the world championship in Austria.
“Competing internationally, it’s a completely different playing field,” George explained. “ It doesn’t compare with anything you’ll ever do in your life.”
In central and eastern Europe, powerlifting is deeply embedded in the athletic culture, and powerlifters are among the best-known athletes.
“ There were 1,500 people in the audience. It was incredible,” he recalled.
Back in Newfoundland, powerlifting has a small but devoted following, and many lifters from this province have distinguished themselves on the national stage.
“ Newfoundland has the greatest number of Canadian champions per capita,” said George, who spent much of the last decade posted to Gander.
“ Pound-for-pound, we get the most medals at nationals.”
Part of the appeal at home, George added, is the close relationships between the competitors.
“It’s a great camaraderie sport,” he said, adding that while he competes alone, he trains with fellow lifters who support him and push him.
“ We put together a gym in our hanger,” George said. “ Every day, I train with the same five guys.”
The solidarity between lifters also extends to high-level competition.
“ The greatest thing is, when you’ve just broken a record, usually the first man to congratulate you is the man whose record you’ve broken,” George noted.
Meanwhile, George’s passion for the sport goes beyond competing. He recently became a nationally certified powerlifting referee, the only member of the Canadian Forces to hold such a certification.
But he’s not yet ready to step to the sidelines.
He’s as committed as ever to excelling in the sport.
“ I want to stand on that podium again,” he said. “I really, really think I have a good chance.”
Brian George, seen here lifting an atlas stone at a strongman competition in Bishop’s Falls, is to be be inducted into Canadian Forces Sports Hall of Fame. File
Master Cpl. Brian George is shown at a recent powerlifting competition. George is originally from Winterton, Trinity Bay.