Pastor Brad Olson



My name is Brad Olson.Powerlifting is my hobby.Admittedly, it may be a little more than a hobby, but it is what is do in my free time because I enjoy it.I feel better when I am in shape and I like the interesting people that I get to meet.


I wasn’t much of an athlete in High School. I was better at being a student. Then, my Junior year, my parents took me to visit a family friend who was in the hospital.Louise was getting older and was in and out of the hospital a lot. It happened that her roommate was a girl I sort of knew from school.Brandi had been in a car accident and had been paralyzed from her waist down.I watched as she spent about half an hour getting from her bed to a wheelchair.I remember thinking that I may not have a lot of physical ability, but I should appreciate what I do have more.


I started looking for something that I could do to take better care of myself.As a short, uncoordinated person who was just starting out in my late teens, there weren’t a lot of choices.A friend who was a rower invited me to be a part of the Crew Team.They needed a little guy who could sit in the back of the boat, steer, and tell everyone else what to do.I could do that.


When the team wasn’t on the water, they worked out in the weight room.I started lifting as moral support for the rest of the team.After a season of training, I found that there were some exercises that I could do as well as some of the big guys.Ira encouraged me to go to a competition.At my first competition, my goal was to win a trophy.There were 4 people competing, and they were giving out awards for the top 5 places.I knew I had a pretty good chance.Then, I discovered that one of the other 4 was a girl.I figured I could at least beat the girl and take 3rd.I came in last.But, I loved being in the game.


I kept training and kept getting stronger. After a couple of years, I qualified for Nationals.I won the Nationals in 1987, and then Worlds in 1988 in what was then the ADFPA (now USA Powerlifting).In the years after that, I graduated from college, got married to Dawn, and started working full-time, which made it hard to compete at that level.In the mid 90’s I decided to get serious about competing again and won the Nationals and Worlds in 1994, 1995, and 1996.My best lifts in competition were at a body weight of 132; Squat, 551; Bench; 315; and Dead Lift, 501.


Now I am in the over 50 age group.Our kids (Christopher, Derek, Sarah, and Elizabeth) are grown and on their own.We even have a grand baby, Micah, and another one due any day.I believe that my best days are still to come, so it is as important as ever to be healthy and to always be looking for the next adventure. Toward that end, I am taking another shot at competition. Last year (2013) I won the Nationals (Master 2, 145 lbs) and am currently on the team for the Classic Worlds in South Africa in June.


Most of the time, my calling is to be a pastor. I am the head follower (Lead Pastor) at Faith Community United Methodist Church in Xenia, Ohio.Phillips Brooks once said, “pray not for lighter burdens, pray for a stronger back.”It is good advice for the weight room, it is an even better life lesson.I believe the soul is healthier when we discover a need that we care deeply about, have a vision of what it would look like to lift more of the load, and are willing to exercise our faith to develop the ability give our best effort.What is your burden?How will you lift more of the load?What are you doing to be more able?


Thank you for this chance to share a little bit of my story.  I hope that when our paths cross, you will share with me a little bit of your story.


1987 National Champion

1988 World Champion

1994 World Champion

1995 World Champion

1996 World Champion

2013 National Champion


551 - SQUAT

315 - BENCH


"When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe,


© 2023 by Gary "BIG K" Kanaga.