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Grand Rapids Police detective wins gold at world games

Det. James Vakertzis is a powerlifter and was competing in the World Police and Fire Games in the Netherlands.
Credit: Twitter/@GRChiefWinstrom

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands — Grand Rapids Police Detective James Vakertzis is bringing home the gold medal in powerlifting after competing the the World Police and Fire Games, Chief Eric Winstrom announced on Twitter Wednesday afternoon.

This is a repeat trip to the games for Vakertzis, who had previously finished as the runner-up at the World Police and Fire Games in China in 2019. In March, Vakertzis told 13 On Your Side, he would do better this time around.

There was more at stake in this year's games than a chance to improve on his previous mark. Vakertzis was also carrying on the memory of his daughter Sophia, who passed away at age 19 after a September 2021 car accident.

"This was all my oldest daughter wanted to do, was for me to go to the games, and for her to go with me," Vakertzis told 13 On Your Side in March.

Vakertzis, who has Sophia's face tattooed on his arm says she's the reason he decided to compete. He also said he wanted to win the gold to honor everyone in Grand Rapids and in West Michigan.

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