Women power into world university championships

Ella Morgan reports on Newcastle Weightlifting Club's triumphs in Powerlifting as they qualify for the World University Championships

Ella Morgan
7th May 2018
All smiles: A silver medal for the womens' team is a fantastic achievement. Image: Laksh Bhatia

Powerlifting is a competitive sport at Newcastle University in which you compete to lift the heaviest weight possible in three lift disciplines: squat, bench and deadlift. The competitors are split into weight classes and the competitor with the highest combined total of the three lifts wins.

At the end of March, Newcastle’s men’s and women’s powerlifting teams competed at the British University Championships in Northamptonshire which saw fantastic achievements from our club. The women’s team were particularly remarkable, coming second out of 36 universities across the country. Their performance qualified them for the World University Championships, which will take place this July in the Czech Republic.

Newcastle’s athletes also broke several university records: Justine Lee with 140.5kg deadlift in the 52kg class, Katie Travers with 150.5kg deadlift in the 57kg class and Gabrielle Schroeder with 145.5kg squat, 165.5kg deadlift and 376kg total in the 84kg+ class.

Another member, Hollie Johnson, holds the 87.5kg Bench Press and 387.5kg total in the 63kg class. She was unable to compete this year due to age restrictions at the Championships, but has been to world championships and commonwealth championships in the past few years; she is Newcastle’s strongest member pound for pound, as determined by the Wilks formula.

[pullquote]The women’s team were particularly remarkable, coming second out of 36 universities across the country[/pullquote]

The men’s team attended the World University Championships in 2016, held in Belarus, which was an excellent achievement. Both the men’s and women’s teams qualified for the competition in South Africa last year but couldn’t attend due to the costs. The club has shown outstanding commitment over the years by continuing to develop and succeed, but more importantly made it inclusive for all by providing equal opportunity to succeed.

Newcastle’s weightlifting and powerlifting club has seen great growth in numbers over the years, particularly by female students. This drive to encourage females to take part in this strength sport has been an ongoing process, but the club’s girls aim to set an example by showing that girls are strong, thus proving that any girl can!

Powerlifting is an easy sport to pick up; it’s an extension of the general gym training except you focus on developing strength for performance. It’s an individual sport where you can dictate your training times, frequency and intensity.

Newcastle’s Weightlifting Club believes that strength training should be the foundation of any performance sport, but it can also be beneficial for general healthy lifestyle. Powerlifting will give you confidence in your day to day life, because it teaches you to overcome challenges and mental barriers; as Plato said, ‘Courage is knowing what not to fear’. Ultimately you are only in competition with yourself by aiming to be the best and strongest version of yourself.

This passion is reflected in every member of the club who trains to improve themselves by committing and enjoying the sport. This is the club’s ethos, and as a club in powerlifting and weightlifting the members support and inspire each other. That this is the foundation of the team is shown in their achievements over the years by trusting the process. Just as Muhammad Ali said, ‘It’s the lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believe in myself’; this is something we strive for. The Weightlifting Club has blossomed recently, and its members are proud of what we have nurtured hope to make it bloom in the coming years.

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