To some, weightlifting brings soreness and sweaty hands. To John Apple, it brings euphoria and prize medals.
The Castalia resident recently traveled with his wife and son to Sydney, Australia for a week to compete in weightlifting at the World Masters Games. He was seeded fifth in the world going into the competition in the 60-64 age group and won the bronze medal, just behind the silver medalist from the Czech Republic and the gold medalist from Japan.
He was also chosen to carry the weightlifting flag into the opening ceremony.
"Carrying the weightlifting flag was better than winning the medal -- (the flag) represented about 500 lifters from over 100 countries," he said.
The World Masters Games brought 28,272 men and women from across the country to compete in various sports.
Apple has been weightlifting since college and decided to enter competitions again last year after being competitively retired from the sport. He won the Pan American Games in his age group and competed in the Arnold Classic in Columbus last year. He's also gone to nine state championships in Ohio and set numerous records.
Apple does two types of lifts -- the snatch and his favorite, the clean and jerk.
His bronze medal qualifies him for the next World Masters Games in Poland, but he hasn't decided whether he's going to compete.
Apple worked for various banks in northern Ohio for 31 years. Now he's a part-time junior high pastor at a local church.
Apple also has a passion for passing along his craft.
Each Wednesday night, students from all over the area pile into the makeshift gym garage to learn the techniques of weightlifting, with a dose of scripture for good measure. He concludes each practice with a short Bible study.
Apple has trained as many as 500 young adults over the years, as well as
athletes competing in the Special Olympics. Some of his students have
gone on to play college and professional sports. Right now, he's training junior high and high school children, and even an 89-year-old man trying his hand at weights for the first time.
Brandon Keys, a Sandusky High School senior and football player, has been working with Apple for four years and makes time to attend the practices once a week.
"He taught me to be yourself," Keys said. "He encourages you to do the best that you can. "He pushes me to be the best."
Keys said Apple has also encouraged him to continue his education in college.
"We're supposed to help other people grow," Apple said. "Use your
talent to help people."