Oak Harbor cops medal in world games
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
October 2, 2009 · 3:22 PM
Criminals should be careful in Oak Harbor lest they come face to face with a champion weight lifter or boxer in a police uniform.
Two officers with the Oak Harbor Police Department traveled to Canada this summer to participate in the the 2009 World Police and Fire Games. They came back with three medals and one broken bone between them.
“It’s a lot like the real Olympics,” Sgt. Bill Wilke said. “It was neat to compete and meet people from all over the world.”
The 10-day event rivals the Olympics in terms of worldwide participation and athletic prowess. It was the largest ever this year, with more than 10,000 police officers and firefighters participating.
Wilke, a 20-year veteran of the police department, won a silver medal in a combined bench press and dead lift event. He bench pressed 303 pounds and hefted 507 pounds in the dead lift, for a combined 810 pounds.
Wilke also won a bronze for the 303-pound bench press.
“I’ve lifted weights forever as part of my job,” he said. “It’s obviously important for police officers to be in shape.”
Officer Jon Valenzuela had a different sort of an experience. The super-sized cop, who’s been with the department for four years, is an amateur boxer.
“I’ve been boxing for quite a few years,” he said. “I grew up fighting.”
Over the last year, he has been training at Fidalgo Island Boxing Club in Anacortes. So it seemed like a great idea to accompany Wilke to the giant competition to see how well he could do against his colleagues.
Valenzuela qualified for the super heavy weight class. Things were going well until he got into the ring with a giant cop from New Caledonia.
“I’m not used to seeing someone that much bigger than me,” he said. “Usually when I hit someone, they go down.”
In a freak accident, Valenzuela stepped back, his foot rolled and he heard a snap. He fell to the ground. He said everyone was confused because he was down but hadn’t been hit. It turned out he had broken the fibula bone in his leg.
Needless to say, the match was over. But Valenzuela still won a bronze medal, while his opponent went on to get the gold.
“I was really impressed with the whole thing. It was a great experience, even though I came out with a broken leg,” he said.
Valenzuela had to undergo surgery to get his leg repaired and has been out of work for a few weeks. He has no plans to give up boxing, which he feels makes him a better cop — but not because he’s good at punching bad guys.
“It’s more about getting out of the way and avoid getting hurt,” he said. “My reflexes are better than they normally would be.”Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.