Sylvester Vermillion, a 45-year-old autistic father of two who did not discover the sport of powerlifting until well into adulthood, is now a world champion.
The Columbia Falls man took home gold in the deadlift and triple-combination at the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 20. Vermillion added silver medals in the squat and bench press.
Weights at the competition were measured in kilograms, and Vermillion ended up totaling 495 kg (about 1,091 pounds) between the three disciplines, outpacing silver medalist Joshua Myers of the United States (462 1/2 kg) and Hamad Mubarak Th J Al-Jaber of Qatar (427 1/2), who took bronze. Vermillion successfully lifted 205 to win the deadlift, and posted 175 in the squat and 115 in the bench press. More than 7,000 athletes from around the world participated in the World Games, which will officially end with a star-studded closing ceremony on March 21.
Vermillion started his journey to the World Games at the Montana Special Olympics State Games in 2018, sweeping his way to gold medals in all four disciplines. That performance sent Vermillion to Seattle for the Special Olympics USA Games in July, where he won gold in the deadlift and triple combination, and silver in the bench press and squat.
Vermillion competes locally for the Whitefish Thunder and trains with local coach Mark Kuhr.
Live coverage of Vermillion’s lifts was broadcast on ESPN3 Wednesday morning, and a replay of that coverage can be viewed at http://www.espn.com/watch/player?id=42f20d9b-346b-41c1-807e-1adc5d78bbc2. A two-hour special, featuring some of the competition’s top moments, will air Saturday, March 30 on ABC.