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Ultimate Strength

Selflessness, dedication and drive – these are the characteristics to describe the relationships that powerlifting athlete Keith Martin and his coach James Belk share with one another and training.

On July 20, Martin participated in the Special Olympics North Carolina fundraiser WOD for INCLUSION at CrossFit Hogtown. His coach, Belk, manages this CrossFit location and trained with Martin in the weeks leading up to the event to ensure he was ready.

While only meeting less than a year ago, Belk and Martin have not only built strong muscles, but also a friendship and mentorship that they are both extremely grateful for.

When Martin and Belk were first introduced, they immediately started training. Special Olympics Davidson County had not had a powerlifting team in many years, but Belk’s desire to step up changed the game. Belk noticed Martin’s driven work ethic from their very first training sessions together.

“He clearly had a drive to work hard and he brought that every day we trained together. Keith is a performer,” said Belk. Belk also commented on Martin’s extremely fast progress, describing it as “unheard-of.”

Martin continued to refine his skills for the 2019 Summer Games, where he earned many well-deserved medals. Martin brought home gold in the deadlift, silver in overall, and bronze in both the bench press and squat. He even broke his personal best in the dead lift at the competition, lifting 247 pounds, 20 pounds more than he had ever lifted during practice.

Martin felt so grateful for Belk’s mentorship that he decided to give him his Summer Games medals. A certainly powerful moment, Martin said that it simply felt right.

“I just have a big heart for Special Olympics and sportsmanship,” said Martin.

Martin brought his same positive attitude and determination that he displayed at the Summer Games to the WOD for INCLUSION event at CrossFit Hogtown. With nearly 60 people participating in the workout at that specific location, Martin walked in with confidence and participated in the second heat, completing the workout in just 18 minutes.

Despite the hustle and bustle of the day and Belk’s many responsibilities to keep the event running smoothly, Belk could not help but notice Martin smiling from ear to ear at the end of the workout. Belk joked that Martin was probably the only WOD participant left smiling after all of that work!

Martin’s act of gratitude and appreciation demonstrates how he gives his all in the weight room and in his relationships. Belk’s leadership as the founder of the one-athlete Special Olympics Davidson County’s powerlifting team shows how community members come together and help create opportunities for each other. Martin and Belk are a testament to the power and unification of Special Olympics sports programming in their own community.

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