Belfast Telegraph

Gladiators pushed to the limit in toughest of events

BY MARIA MARSELLA

It tests every aspect of physical fitness to the limit and certainly lives up to its name.

The Toughest Competitor Alive! event began yesterday at Bangor's Sportsplex and the Aurora Aquatic and Leisure Complex.

More than 100 World Police and Fire Games competitors were registered to take part in a gruelling series of eight tasks to be completed in one day.

The event started at 8am with a 5km run and continued with shot-put, 100m run, 100m swim, rope climb, bench press, pull-ups and a 12-point obstacle course to finish.

Sergeant David Miklos from Los Angeles said: "It is a lot of work and preparation. This is actually the fun part; the day you get to compete."

Preparation between athletes varied from relaxing and getting an early night to trying out the Guinness as Indiana police officer Kimberly Young did.

"I was at the athletes village for a while last night and I had to have the Guinness," she said.

Kimberly, who competed in the bench press, had just finished her event when she caught up with the Belfast Telegraph.

"This is the best I have done ever in the games. Before I had done 120lbs and today I was able to do 132lbs."

Despite the excitement surrounding the event, the conversation always comes back to the beauty of Belfast and the surrounding countryside.

Yesenia Guzman of the Los Angeles Sheriff's department said: "I'm happy to be here. It's a beautiful country. I'm in love with the architecture.

"We wanted to save all the fun for after the competition so just prior to that we just did a mini-tour around Belfast on the red double decker bus."

Of course, bench pressing and swimming aren't the competitors' day jobs. The games provide officers with an escape from their demanding jobs.

Bernadette Cunningham, a police officer from Scotland, said the games are a distraction from her high-stress work.

She added: "The games are an escape for me. When I'm stressed, there is nothing better than going to the gym and lifting some heavy weights."

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