ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – By day, James Storch is a respiratory therapist at Schuyler Hospital. By night, he’s a world-renowned weightlifter who’s using his passion for strength to teach future generations to be just as strong.

Storch has been weightlifting since 1979.

“I’ve wanted to do it for as long as I can remember, I remember being six-years-old, watching the 72 Olympics on TV,” says Storch.

Now, fast forward 40 years and he’s one of the top weightlifters in the world, living right here in Elmira.

“In the same calendar year, you have to win the US Masters Nationals. The World Championships, the Pan Am’s which encompasses the western hemisphere of the world. As well as the New American Masters. If you win all four of those in the same year it’s called the Grand Slam,” says Storch.

In 2019 at 53, Storch took home nationals in Salt Lake City, Utah. American Master in Washington state. Pan-American Masters in Orlando, Florida, and won the World’s title for his class and age group in Montreal, Quebec.

“I’m lucky enough to have two passions not including my wife. Weightlifting and powerlifting, and my job. I really enjoy what I do,” says Storch.

Storch is all too familiar with the pandemic; he was one of the few local health care professionals that went down and helped fight on the frontline of New York City’s battle against COVID-19, back in April.

“Not being able to breathe is no joke, the best part of my job is seeing somebody improve… the worst part is, as a respiratory therapist, we’re part of the code team. They don’t always make it but it’s part of life but you have to deal with it,” says Storch.

How Storch deals with it? The gym.

Now Storch is using his passion to help make future generations just as strong.

Kiersten Hafer has been training with Storch since the gyms in New York closed due to the pandemic.

Hafer says, “Honestly, it was insane to me when it all first started, because I didn’t know how serious, I would end up taking it. I’m highly critical on myself, and so this sport really pushes me to try to be the best version of myself and to get better and improve every single time I do it, and that’s what Jim does for me.”