Police officers and firefighters assembled in Los Angeles this month from around the planet for the 2017 World Police and Fire Games. And in the end, the games were just as much about camaraderie and testing one’s limits as they were about winning and losing.
More than 8,000 athletes from 70 countries competed in nearly 60 events and one of the largest and most diverse contingents of athletes was from Anaheim PD. The group of 14 represented APD well across shooting, track and field, soccer, hockey and other sports.
Leigh Fukuzawa, a firearm instructor in the Weapons Training Unit, nailed the gold medal in the Stock Service Revolver, and bronze in the Police Action Pistol Revolver (age 50 plus) events.
“This was a wonderful experience, competing with armed officers from all over the world,” Fukuzawa said. “In our small group of 16 shooters, we had officers from Western Australia, Northern Ireland, Hong Kong, Toronto, Canada, Montreal, Canada and France. We all tried to communicate as best as possible to break through the language barrier. Whenever someone completed their course of fire, we all clapped and said ‘good job’ with a thumbs up.”
Fukuzawa, a semi-retired, 35-year law enforcement veteran, downplayed his victory and looked at it mostly as a bonus for hard work.
“You perform what you hope is your best during a competition and in the end someone may do better than you, or someone may do worse,” he said. “Winning a medal is just the icing on the cake! It’s always nice coming home with something extra around your collar aside from sweat!”
Erin Moore outraced most of the field, finishing just behind a Romanian runner to claim the bronze medal in the women’s 200 meter track and field event. It was a personal high point for Moore and perhaps a turning point as well.
“I thought this experience was great. I was glad I was able to do it,” Moore said. “I would attribute this as one of the greatest experiences of my career.”
The medal-winning performance fired up Moore for the next games. Moore added with a smile: “I will compete again.”
Flora Palma and Caryn Sabeh helped lead the women’s Southern California soccer team to a bronze medal, defeating teams from Mexico and China.
“It was amazing and surreal to compete with officers from around the world, all with such awesome attitudes and camaraderie,” Sabeh said. “With much efforts and dedication, our SoCal team came together and managed to bring home the bronze. We put in a lot of hard work and never gave up, which is all I expect from our hodgepodge of an outstanding team.”
The Southern California men’s hockey team, which included APD’s Chris Cooper, Mike Lozeau and Jon Acuna, competed admirably against former and up-and-coming National Hockey League players. And in Judo, Matthew Toda gave a strong performance against his competiton, which included a former UFC athlete.
In other events, Shawn Boatright battled Australian and European surfers into the late rounds of the surfing competition, and Gus Maya and Jon Yepes averaged a 30-mile-per-hour pace against Spain, France and Canada in the cycling street race event.