WROCLAW, Poland -- Eight service members with 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, competed in the 1st World Bench Press Championships of the Uniformed Services, here, May 24 - 26, 2019.
"This weekend Poland hosted the first world's bench press competition of uniformed service members, a one lift event, bench press only," said Ohio Army National Guard Sgt. Christopher Shulz, a combat medic. "I loved being a part of it, I'm glad that the Polish were so inviting."
Over 100 uniformed athletes were on hand for the international competition open to active and retired military service members and uniformed services.
"We have seen that this kind of international competition, especially with those who wear the uniform are all the time competing to be the best," said Polish Army Maj. Piotr Kowalczyk. "I know the U.S. guys want to be the best, so the Polish would like to show them that there are some sport competitions that we are better."
The primary goal for events like this is to bring together people from different uniformed services and countries, to meet up and have fun competing.
Sometimes we have to cooperate on the outside together so it's better to [get to] know each other on the civilian side [at events like this], so we can work better together when in uniform, said Kowalczyk. We now know that it's a hybrid warfare, more or less fighting with the terrorists.
This is a bench press only competition because for some it can be easier to train only one event and it's a way to include veterans who may have lost a leg during combat. The bench press is a strength lift that consists of three attempts to achieve a maximum weight.
"We want to activate the other veterans, said Kowalczyk. "Sometimes someone might be deaf or they lost a leg, but they still can press."
"I think that doing events like this lets the Polish know that we're not just here because we have to be," added Shulz. "We want to be here and do things together, that aren't necessarily military related."
The competition started off last Friday afternoon with weigh ins, and continued through Sunday afternoon. Women competed in three separate weight and two different age categories. The men were split into 10 different weight and four different age categories.
"I would definitely love the opportunity to come back and do this again, it was a lot of fun," said Shulz. "Everyone that came, were thankful that we were invited out by the Polish and we look forward to doing more things like this with them."
For information on this event and future competitions like this please contact "Sports Association - Metro Flex" at: email@example.com (in Polish).
The Devil Brigade is part of more than 6,000 U.S. regionally-allocated Soldiers in Germany, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania, on a nine-month rotation, in support of Atlantic Resolve.