Badge of gold: Thompson police chief wins 3 international gold medals
THOMPSON, N.D. — He's the police chief in a small Grand Forks County community. Thompson Police Department Chief David Kurtz can now add three-time gold medalist to his resume.
"I thought I could do it. I don't know how well I'm going to do," he said, explaining his thought process before signing up for the World Police and Fire Games in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Kurtz won three gold medals, taking gold in the discus, shot put and javelin for his age group.
In discus, he had the second farthest distance for men in the 18-49 age range.
He also set his own personal records in two of the categories.
Back home and armed with police badge stickers, Kurtz immediately became the most popular guy on the elementary school playground. It's one of his favorite parts of the job — being a role model for this community of about 1,100 south of Grand Forks.
He's the town's only police officer.
Kurtz says it's all about community engagement.
"Change somebody from doing something that they were thinking of doing — something bad or not making a good decision — by having a conversation, I feel that is a win," he said.
The 45-year-old said he is getting better as he gets older.
"Especially when we hit 40, everything is supposed to drop down a little bit and you are not supposed to continue to improve is what everybody says," Kurtz said.
Now he has the bling to prove it.
"I can't describe what it means," Kurtz said, referring to his accomplishment.
His wins come three years after having a stroke. His doctors saying he might not be able to work again has been Kurtz's motivation.
"Right away, I was pretty motivated. I have to get myself off this bed," Kurtz said. "After having a stroke, I gotta move my arm just a little bit to eat, I'm going to work on that until I do it, then I want to try and move something else — the slow, little things — to work."
Kurtz said he is not as strong as before the stroke, but in the best shape of his life. His medals are a symbol of more than victory at the games, but victory in life ever since he was a young boy.
"In elementary school, I wasn't one of the kids that could run the fastest, I was the kid who walked the mile," he said. "I could barely do any push-ups, sit-ups — all this other stuff — then it finally clicked one day in sixth grade when I won a scooter race in the gym."
As Kurtz hands out stickers on the playground, he is hoping his message of working hard to achieve their goals sticks with each child.
In the spring, Kurtz trades the uniform for a tracksuit coaching the throwers on Thompson's track-and-field team.