Strong woman in blue
Constable Shari Spivak is a powerful force on the Service. Just over a year after taking part in her first powerlifting competition, Spivak is a world-record holder in three categories in the 84-kilogram category for participants between the ages of 50-60.
At last June’s International Powerlifting Federation World Class championships in Texas, the married mother of three did a 147.5 kilogram back squat and a 97.5 kilogram bench press while amassing 410 kilograms, all world records.
She finished fourth in the deadlift and was awarded a bronze medal – in addition to three gold medals – for being the third-best lifter in the Master 2 Women class.
Spivak said she thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the world championships.
“It was one of the best experiences of my life,” she said. “I got to meet people from all over the world, including three police officers from Edmonton, Ottawa and the United States who were in my weight and age category. It was so amazing to meet other law enforcement officers.”
The 32 Division officer was recently recognized with the Toronto Police Amateur Athletic Association (TPAAA) Athlete of the Year Award.
“To be nominated is quite an honour,” she said. “But to actually be the recipient of the award is very humbling.”
TPAAA president Chris Devereux said selecting Spivak as Athlete of the Year was based on her performance in competitions as well as her positive attitude.
“When the nomination came in, we were all awestruck by her accomplishments,” said Constable Devereux, who is also assigned to 32 Division. “She set world records and was always smiling while competing. She is simply amazing.”
The veteran officer said she was encouraged to take up powerlifting while training at CrossFit Markham.
“About two years ago, one of the coaches suggested I should start focusing on powerlifting because he figured I was a strong person,” she said.
Powerlifting is a strength sport that consists of three attempts at maximal weight on three lifts – squat, bench press and deadlift.
“I enjoyed the training, got hooked and found myself signing up for my first competitive meet in the summer of 2015,” Spivak recalled.
At the Durham Summer Classic, she was the top lifter in her weight and age category, with 370 kilograms, that earned her a spot at the provincial competition in November 2015.
Spivak again sizzled at that championship, setting national records in the bench press with 90 kilograms, the squat with 127.5 kilograms and the deadlift with 380 kilograms.
The record-setting performances paved the way for Spivak to attend the February 2016 nationals where she set a Canadian record with a total of 392.5 kilograms and was voted the best overall lifter.
She was among nearly 200 lifters who represented Canada at the world championships, last June in Texas.
“It’s really amazing how far I have come in such a short time,” she said. “I just can’t believe it.”
Spivak will spend the next few months training to compete in a lower weight category.
“Though I am about 170 pounds, I was competing at the top end of the 84-kilogram category which has a cut-off point of 185 lbs,” she said. “Even though I was winning, I was really competing against women who were stronger that I am. I am training to get down to about 157 pounds and that would allow me to participate in the 72-kilogram category.
Spivak has spent her 27 years on the Service at the same Division.
“I absolutely love it here,” she said. “It was at 32 Division that I met my husband (Arshad Khawaja).”
She is the School Liaison Officer for almost 55 schools in her Division talking to kids from Kindergarten to Grade 8.
Ron Fanfair is a communications specialist with the Toronto Police Service’s Corporate Communications Unit.
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