VIDEO: ‘If you have goals, reach for it’ says Surrey Special Olympian who broke two powerlifting records

South Surrey teen Malcolm Gendall, who has Down Syndrome, knows a thing or two about dedication

Malcolm Gendall’s eyes sparkle as he excitedly talks about his workout routine.

“Biceps,” he says smiling, “biceps are my favourite.”

Malcolm is a 17-year-old Special Olympian from South Surrey who has Down Syndrome. He was recently awarded for breaking two B.C. records in powerlifting.

“I felt really great, really proud of myself and proud of my body,” he says of his achievements.

The Grade 12 student at Earl Marriott Secondary began powerlifting and training on his own about three years ago.

He was entirely self-taught, spending hours watching videos on his phone and mapping out runs in his South Surrey neighbourhood, until last year when he joined Special Olympics BC powerlifting.

Malcolm’s record-setting performances were achieved at his second-ever tournament, the British Columbia Powerlifting Association provincials (BCPA), held on June 26, 2016 in Langley.

“That morning I had to get up so early. I couldn’t even have breakfast. I thought, ‘That’s going to kill me like a lot,’ but I persevered,” Malcolm recalled of his efforts to get into a certain weight class. “I went to the competition and did my weigh-in, and after my weigh-in that morning I could actually eat and drink coffee.”

He powered through, achieving two BCPA records – 75 kilogram Bench Press and 110 kilogram Dead Lift – in the Sub-Junior Men’s Unequipped 59 kilogram division.

Though at the time, he didn’t know his performances were record-breaking. His father did some research and made the discovery. The family applied to the BCPA to get it recognized and just shy of a year later, it was approved and Malcolm was recently given his certificates.

“It felt really awesome,” says Malcolm.

Mom Janet chuckles as she recalls how Malcolm had a ball or a stick in his hand from the minute he could walk.

“Tennis was a big thing, I would put him on a couch or a bed throw the ball at him and he’d hit it back. We progressed to our garage, then that went further up the drive and eventually I took him to a court and he must have been only three or four at that time. When we got to Canada he was six and I started him in tennis. He’s done very well in all sports, but this one is his own endeavour, totally his own.

“He’s always been a very outgoing little fella, always very friendly, always good at sports,” adds Janet.

“I started when he was tiny, throwing balls. Then it went onto golf clubs and rackets. He’s always had a ball or a stick in his hand because I figured the more he could do the better it would be for him. I had no real help, he was born in Ecuador, so I did basically all his early intervention myself and I focused on sports and swimming and running and everything outdoors.

“He’s got very good hand-eye co-ordination… Basically he can hold his own with anything.”

Malcolm describes his strict training regimen.

“Basically I do four workouts and four runs on the weekend. And on school days, two times before dinner after school right away,” he says.

“I was on an intense diet,” Malcolm adds, “but I kind of slipped down, but I’m going to get back on track.”

Asked if he’d like to demonstrate some exercises, Malcolm jumps up.

“Yes, actually I do, yes,” he replies. “I’ll show you the bench press and I’ll show you some arms.”

Malcolm now has his sights set on the 2017 Special Olympics BC Summer Games in Kamloops, where he’s qualified for powerlifting.

“Yes, totally yes,” he said about his plans to continue bodybuilding, adding he may soon begin training a friend of his to compete.

“I literally can’t stop doing it. I do it over and over and over again. Until I get sick of it then I do it some more.”

Malcolm has this advice for anyone who dreams of getting into powerlifting: “I encourage anyone who is watching right now to go home, get in the gym, workout and just get bigger and bigger and bigger, all day, everyday. Keep going.

“If you have goals, reach for it.”

Outside of sports, Malcolm works at a South Surrey McDonalds and is about to graduate high school. And he recently moved into his parents’ basement, where he plans to pay rent.

“I am independent, I work completely hard.”