Bob Walt follows a family tradition. With his induction into the Belleville Sports Hall of Fame in 2003, he becomes the third member of the city’s illustrious ‘First Family of Weightlifting’ to enter the town’s athletic shrine. Walt’s older brothers, Art and Gary, were inducted in 1992. But Bob Walt had to wait until he was 50 to become eligible to enter the hall. That is because he was still competing in his beloved sport of Olympic style weightlifting as an accomplished Masters athlete long after his brothers and most of his rivals had retired from the game. In fact, Walt has often said he is not getting older, just better. His Masters accomplishments would seem to confirm that belief. He is a 10-time Canadian Masters champion and current national record-holder.
Walt was inducted into the Canadian Masters Hall of Fame in 2001. He was World Masters champion in 2000 and is a three-time Pan American Masters champ: in 1999, 2001 and 2002. Walt entered the New Millennium in his fifth decade as a member of Belleville’s Apollo Barbell Club, one of the most respected weightlifting outfits in Canada.
While Walt’s achievements as a Masters lifter are indeed impressive, the seeds for success were clearly sown in his early years with the Apollo Club. Born in Belleville on August 27, 1949, Walt followed his brothers into the Apollo fold where they dominated the local weightlifting scene, competing against each other in the gym and blowing away the competition at weekend contests around the province and, later, the nation.
Walt first tasted success in the iron game in 1966 when he was Canadian teenage champion for his weight class. He added a second teen title in 1969. Walt was a Canadian champion in 1968, Canadian intermediate champion a year later and a British Commonwealth record-holder for two years, from 1967 to 1968. Other titles included an Ontario senior crown in 1966, Best Lifter title at the 1968 provincial championships and the 1969 Ontario Junior belt. At the Canada Games in 1971, Walt won a bronze medal. Two years later, he qualified for the World Championships and was Canadian runner-up in 1976 and 1978.
Walt’s achievements cannot, however, be measured by medals alone. His dedication to the sport includes not only his continued active involvement, but the very fact he provided the once nomadic Apollo Club with a permanent home – in his garage. Walt is proof that age is just a number. It need not be a factor in achieving athletic success.0