ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — The countdown is on to the 2019 World Police and Fire Games in China. They are sometimes called “The Olympics for Police and Firefighters.” This year, 40,000 law enforcement officers and firefighters from 80 countries will compete in 55 different sports.
Among those competing is Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Deputy Mateo Montoya-Collis.
“My goal was to be an Olympian. I worked really, really hard, spent a lot of years training, countless hours, I can count them ’cause I did,” he said.
Now, Montoya-Collis trains about 15 hours a week alongside some Olympic hopefuls.
“You’re really just trying to improve for milliseconds. A small fraction of a second gets you ahead. This year, my focus is going to be on 100 and 200 meter, if the body holds up do some relays,” he said.
Montoya-Collis said his athleticism helps when he is patrolling the streets.
“Don’t try to run. I will catch you. That’s number one,” he said.
The deputy said one of his favorite parts of being in law enforcement is intersecting with children.
“For me, the young kids are why I stay in the profession. You can impact them positively. When I was younger, I had a Denver police officer talk to me and gave me the idea that I have options. A lot of [times] when I contact these youngsters, I will ask them if they play a sport. Some do. The ones that don’t — I’ll ask them about a hobby and we’ll just talk about developing those hobbies into skills, beneficial for themselves, their families, the community,” Montoya-Collis said.
Montoya-Collis has already won gold, silver and bronze medals at national championships as well as at previous World Police and Fire Games.
“Definitely blessed, no other way I can say it. It’s been fun,” he said.
As for the good-natured rivalry between police and fire departments, for this competition, Montoya-Collis is all team USA.
“If I lose to a fireman from the United States, not a problem. If I lose to a firefighter from another country, we’ll talk later. The rivalry kind of goes away. It’s more or less you just want to beat everyone that’s next to you. I’d much rather not lose to a fireman, put it that way,” he said.
The games begin on Aug. 8. More information is available on the competition’s website.