The Alameda County deputy sheriff won a gold medal and tied a record June 20 during the United States Police and Fire Championships, where he was among 3,500 police officers and firefighters from across the country who competed from June 16 to 24.
The competition consisted of more than 40 activities, from basketball, tennis and soccer to air-rifle shooting, archery and paintball.
Christiansen, 38, won gold in the 242-pound, Senior B division at this year’s event, putting up a personal-best 452 pounds on his final repetition, to capture top honors.
“I sort of have a winning streak going, as I have not yet placed worse than first whenever I compete,” said Christiansen.
By his count, he has collected 14 gold medals at various bench press competitions during his 13-year career in law enforcement.
“I try to take my victories in stride, and I don’t really make a big deal about them,” he said. “But my coworkers always send their congratulations, and some have expressed their happiness that I go every year to represent our department well in the games.”
Despite bench-pressing almost twice his body weight, Christiansen said he was prepared to lift more weight to win the competition.
“(My lift) actually tied the existing record in the Senior B division,” Christiansen said. “The 452-pound lift felt so easy. I know I could have easily lifted another five pounds to set the record, but unfortunately it was my last lift, and I had to decide before that lift if I wanted to go for the event record or simply go for a (personal record).”
Though he won, it’s a decision he won’t soon forget.
“I have mixed feelings on the outcome,” Christiansen said. “I’m thrilled to be the co-record holder and to have set a (personal-best mark), but I get to spend the rest of the year contemplating how I could have (broken) that record.”
The games began in 1967, when they were called the California Police Olympics. The purpose is to encourage a closer bond of fraternity and foster harmonious relations among law enforcement agents and firefighters, according to the group’s website.
“It was the camaraderie that intrigued me about the police and fire games,” Christiansen said. “During the competition, we are competitors. But after the first-lift jitters are out of the way, the atmosphere seems to lighten up, and competitors start to give each other encouragement.”
While training for the event, Christiansen said he worked out four to five times a week for a few hours at a time, using heavy weights and few repetitions.
“I also made sure to get plenty of rest during the two weeks leading up to the event, as my central nervous system needed time to recover from all the heavy lifting I did (during training),” he said.
Christiansen said his wife, Lynette, was his strongest supporter and the reason he competes.
“If Lynette didn’t go to my competitions, I don’t know how I would do — she’s my lucky charm,” said Christiansen, who noted that his sons, Blaine, 20, and Dylan, 15, also play an important role in his life. “I always feel great pride to share my victories with my family.”
Christiansen has his sights set on next year’s competition, where he hopes to press himself into the U.S. Police and Fire Championships record book.
“I hope to at least be as strong next year as I am now, so that I can actually try to set the record, instead of just tying it,” Christiansen said. “Regardless, this is just a hobby and for fun. I am going to stick with it as long as it’s enjoyable for me and my family.”