2017-09-01 / Sports

Post firefighter takes first in World Police and Fire Games

BY LAURA LEVERING
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office


Brandon Cunningham, Fort Gordon lead firefighter and CrossFit Fort Gordon lead programmer, displays gold medals he won at the 2017 World Police and Fire Games in Los Angeles. 
COURTESY PHOTO Brandon Cunningham, Fort Gordon lead firefighter and CrossFit Fort Gordon lead programmer, displays gold medals he won at the 2017 World Police and Fire Games in Los Angeles. COURTESY PHOTO Brandon Cunningham is proof diligence and determination can take you far.

Cunningham, Fort Gordon lead firefighter and CrossFit Fort Gordon lead programmer, competed in the 2017 World Police and Fire Games held Aug. 7-16, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Cunningham competed in the 2,000 and 500 meter indoor rowing races. He won gold medals in both. To the best of his knowledge, he was the first and only person to compete and represent Fort Gordon in the competition, which he dubbed “the Olympics for police officers and firefighters.”

The World Police and Fire Games is a multi-sports event open to active and retired law enforcement and fire service personnel around the world.

It is held every two years and attracts approximately 10,000 athletes; slightly fewer than the Summer Olympic Games.

Cunningham, a seasoned competitor, was not surprised he finished on top. With nearly 15 years of professional competition experience, Cunningham said he worked hard to get where he’s at and went into the event well-prepared. But it wasn’t by his own doing. Cunningham had a lot of support along the way.

“I have a great group of training partners from CrossFit Fort Gordon and everyone on our department has been extremely supportive as well,” Cunningham said.

“A lot of my training was done with the CrossFit Fort Gordon folks and my wife, who is also a competitive rower.”

That training and support helped carry him through some of rough waters on race day.

Cunningham said he encountered his most difficult moment during the 2,000 meter race when he fell behind a Swedish competitor midway through the race.

“I had to dig pretty deep to come back and get the win,” Cunningham said. “This is something we train a lot … being mentally tough and not giving in or giving up.”

Adding to the mentally challenging aspect, Cunningham received some bittersweet news during the competition. One of his biggest supporters, his grandmother, had passed away recently.

“I’m happy I got the win the day before she passed so my mom could share the good news with her,” Cunningham said. “This was special and very memorable.”

John Ryan believes the attitude and approach Cunningham had during the competition mirrors his life and makes him a strong role model. Ryan, longtime friend and assistant chief of training, Fort Gordon Fire Department, described him as a visionary who is extremely strong cognitively and psychologically.

“He has a rare ability to see what it is he desires, develop a detailed plan to get there and then work tirelessly to achieve his desired end state,” Ryan said.

“He has a saying he shares with the athletes he coaches, ‘don’t set goals; make decisions,’ and he lives this mantra.”

It has taken years and several competitions for Cunningham to get where he’s at. And stopping is nowhere on his radar. He is currently training for the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge World Championship in Louisville, Kentucky, held Oct. 23-28, where he plans to bring back his 11th World Championship.

Proving the competitions aren’t just about him, in between training and working full-time at the Fort Gordon Fire Department, Cunningham has a tightly-packed schedule coaching CrossFit Fort Gordon athletes for their upcoming competitions. His passion for helping others achieve their goals just as evident as it is for achieving his own.

“The example I hope to set is to live it up, find something to pursue and get after it, don’t stop until they get it, and once they do, start over again and do something else,” Cunningham said.

Ryan said it is an honor to be associated with Cunningham and the professionals they work alongside.

“I look forward to see what they have in store for us next and the ways they will continue to make one another better,” Ryan said.

“We are building a championship team, and we are getting one percent closer every day.”

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