Weightlifting, at its core, is a test of physical limits, explosive human power and strong mentality. These are key traits in an effective police officer, as well.

Keith Lightner put those characteristics to the test earlier this month when he participated in the 2015 World Police and Fire Games in Fairfax County, Virginia. The Spring Garden Township officer prevailed, taking home gold medals in his division for the bench press and push/pull competitions.

The games: The World Police and Fire Games is a biennial athletic event and is open to active and retired law enforcement and fire service personnel all over the world. The games boast more than 60 athletic events for 10,000-plus fire and police athletes.

Lightner said he competes because it's a hobby and it's great sport.

"I don't do it to win awards. I do it because of the camaraderie that is shared between these athletes."

In the bench press competition, athletes lie flat on their backs and have three attempts to lift as much weight as they can. Lightner beat out competitors from Canada and Sweden by pressing 400 pounds to take home the gold medal.

The York native also took home the top award for the push/pull competition, an event that pairs a deadlift and bench press.

"I did 400 for the bench press, and I dead lifted 500," Lightner said, not fully satisfied with the results in spite of his wins.

Injury: Lightner returned to the competition circuit after a six-year break caused by a series of training and work-related injuries, including two herniated discs and arthritis in his back. Lightner said it was the tendonitis in his elbow that began earlier this year, however, that ultimately kept him from performing to his fullest.

Usually athletes have three attempts to show off what they can do, but Lightner passed on his third attempts because of his elbow.

"See I did 500, but I'm used to deadlifting around 600," he said, adding that he felt very lucky to take home a pair of golds this year.

"There's a lot of good athletes out there, I was fortunate enough to beat out a few people, and everything worked out well in the end."

Lightner, who started lifting under his father's encouragement when he was younger, said this year's competition wasn't initially on his radar.

"I wasn't even planning to compete at first," he said. "Another officer at the station was planning on going and asked me if I could help him train. He ended up getting injured, and I just decided to go. It was something that I wanted to see through to the end."

Support: Lightner said his family and trainers have all been vital in his athletic endeavors.

"My daughter rode down with a friend and got to see me compete, so that was kind of cool," said Lightner, the father of two daughters.

He also said working with his trainers in York have been some of the most enjoyable times in his athletic journey.

"I really do have very good support. I have family support, and I train at Chaillet's Private Fitness," Lightner said. "Mark Chaillet actually personally helps me with my training, he's a hall-of-fame powerlifter, and he's my bench press coach. I've also worked with Vinny Cooke, who is one of the top lifters in York."

Competing: Lightner said he's unsure if he'll attend the next World Police and Fire Games in 2017, which will be held in Montreal. The 2019 games are slated for China.

"It is pretty taxing on your body," he said. "And the older you get, the more you feel it, and that definitely catches up with you."

Lightner said he hopes to see the sport grow and that some rising athletes will fill in.

"Montreal is maybe for now," Lightner said, "But there's a lot of great lifters here in York, and I'd love to see some of them compete in the future, especially some of the younger ones."

— Reach Jessica Schladebeck at

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