Experience: I am a 79 year old world champion weightlifter | Bodybuilding

I I started powerlifting when I was 65. I worked in real estate in Michigan for about 35 years, and when I retired I decided I wanted to lose some weight. A friend’s husband, Art Little, who is a personal trainer, invited me to his gym. He introduced me to powerlifting and is still my coach now.

The first time I went there, he gave me a broom to lift. The next day, I said to myself that I would not return, but I heard a voice in my head telling me to return. So, I ended up coming back day after day. After a few weeks, my coach encouraged me to go to a tournament to see the others compete against each other. I was really amazed by all these young women, but there was no one my age. I asked my trainer if he thought I could do it and he said, “Oh sure.”

The first time I competed was at a national competition. There were about 45 people of different age groups ranging from teenagers to people my age. We were only three in my age category. I did the bench press, deadlift, and squat — all three types of weightlifting — and came first in all three. I was surprised to have won, because the others had been doing it for much longer. Just got to the end of two months and wiped them all out. After that, I knew weightlifting was for me.

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My trainer made me go to the gym three times a week. I improved so quickly because I was consistent. If I was supposed to be there on Monday, I would be there, whether it was a holiday, rain or shine. I haven’t missed a day – and that’s how I live up to the weight I’m lifting now, even though the gains have been slow. Every year I got better.

When I started powerlifting I could bench press around 36-41kg, but now it’s 91kg. My top squat is 400lbs and my deadlift went from around 80lbs to 400lbs. I am the world record holder of three in the 60+ category.

I didn’t do any sport when I was younger; I was lazy. By the time I was in my 60s, I constantly felt tired and out of breath going up and down stairs when showing homes as a real estate agent. It was embarrassing. Now the doctor tells me that my heart is strong and healthy.

My father was a workaholic. He was employed in a steel mill and passed on his work ethic to me. He instilled in me the idea that you have to be consistent and focus on things to get anywhere in life. I always train three days a week, each session lasting one to three hours. Each day is dedicated to one of three powerlifting disciplines. I also do a lot of varied workouts in the gym to get my body ready for a tournament, like leg presses, squats, and pull-downs.

Training can be tough at times, but every time I come home I feel great. My coach is really proud of me. I have been invited to participate in the world championships every year since I started powerlifting and have won in my category Everytime. Younger competitors tell me they want to be like me when they’re my age. The judges were shocked by all that I can raise. People often look at me and say, “Oh, she can’t lift that. I like to surprise them.

It can get expensive though – there’s a lot of traveling involved and specialist equipment, such as a squat suit, costs between $200 and $500 (£243 to £404). I supplement my income by making food deliveries.

I’m 79 now and I tell people my age that they can do that too; they just need to be consistent and start small. You have to build yourself. If it’s not powerlifting, do something active. You have to move your body. If you sit and do nothing, you become dust.

When I’m outside, the neighbors ask me if I’m the woman who does powerlifting. My daughter is a nurse and her colleagues ask her if she also does powerlifting. She doesn’t, but she’s proud of me. My son loves me doing it. His friends say he should be at the gym and he tells them it’s his mom’s thing. I can lift more than him.

My goal is to do a total of 454 kg (1,000 lbs) in all three disciplines by the time I go to the world championships in November. Though my greatest achievement is getting better my health. As long as I maintain good health and a strong spirit, that’s all I care about.

As said to Amy Sedghi

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