Master Corporal Gabriel Auclair, RCAF Male Athlete of the Year, shows that there is more to weightlifting than physical strength

News Article / January 13, 2021

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Royal Canadian Air Force Public Affairs

“I’m someone who never looks behind, who moves on and always tries to achieve more,” says Royal Canadian Air Force male athlete of the year, Master Corporal Gabriel Auclair, who is an Aviation Technician at 406 Maritime Operational Training Squadron, based at 12 Wing Shearwater, Nova Scotia.

MCpl Auclair got into weightlifting when he was 15 years old, inspired by his brother, who practised the sport at the time. However, joining the Canadian Armed Forces was his father’s idea. He suggested it as a route to help him become bilingual and improve his chances for his application to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. “But I loved my job,” says MCpl Auclair, “so I stayed.” By doing so, he’s travelled the world on deployments with Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships Ottawa, Ville de Québec, Algonquin and Winnipeg.

“I haven’t always had wins, I haven’t always had successes,” adds MCpl Auclair. “We’ve all had downfalls, we’ve all had difficulties, we’ve all had problems. My philosophy is not to look back. I look forwards and try to be the best I can be and to always improve.” The weightlifter fits his intense training schedule around his hours at the wing, where he has worked since he finished his trade training in 2003. He was posted first to Shearwater, from 2003 to 2007, and then to 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron in Patricia Bay, in British Columbia, and now to 406 Squadron.

MCpl Auclair was at the gym when he saw a Facebook notification of him being tagged into a meeting. He never understood why he was invited until the last 20 minutes of it, when the base commander announced that he was nominated for the title of RCAF Male Athlete of the Year, which came as a big surprise to him.

In August 2019, he participated in the World Masters Olympic Weightlifting Championships in Montréal, Québec. “When I got to the competition, I didn’t know the levels of the other athletes,” says MCpl Auclair. “When I showed up, all I could see were the Americans and one competitor from the Philippines. They were all staring me down and I couldn’t understand why, but I’m pretty certain that it was because of my small size.”

“It was very stressful because Canada was still in second place when it was my turn,” he says, adding that he was the last on the team to compete. He knew that if he lifted well, it would mean the difference between a silver and a gold for the men’s team. Competing in the over-35 age group and over-109 kilogram weight class, MCpl Auclair pulled through for his teammates in both of his events: the snatch, and the clean and jerk. He lifted 138 kilograms for the snatch and 177 kilograms in the clean and jerk, for a total weight of 315 kilograms. In doing so, he set three Canadian records: one for each individual event and one for the total.

When MCpl Auclair speaks to friends about motivation and setting goals, he always says: “Lions do not lose sleep over the opinions of sheep.” The athlete advises not to look back and not to listen to people who have negative opinions. “Focus on what you do, focus on yourself: that’s what’s important.”

Master Corporal Auclair thanks his friends and family, whose support has allowed him to excel in his sport.

Bravo Zulu, Master Corporal Auclair!

Article written with files from 12 Wing.

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