Women’s* Weightlifters Qualify for Nationals

Sunday of 4th week saw four members of Wadham Women’s* Weightlifting travel to Stourbridge for the West-Midlands BDFPA Regionals, with the hope of hitting the qualifying weights to make it to Nationals in Edinburgh this summer. This was the first time competing for all four women, but the wonderful and experienced Catherine Walter, World Full Power Champion and founder of Linacre Ladies that Lift was there to offer guidance, along with Linacre lifters Isabel de Berrie, Jennifer Gooden and Dina Hestad.

After a brutally early start to make the weigh in there was a chance to spend an hour or so catching up with food and drink while waiting for the squats to begin. As the first liff of the day, and the first ever under the watchful eye of the judges, nerves inevitably led to some failed lifts. Evie Fleck achieved 70kg, Cat Robinson 77.5kg, Ruth Harris 85kg, while Isobel Townend scored an impressive 97.5kg, a new personal best. 

As the day went on, the team began feeling more relaxed and confident, as they became more accustomed to the audience, competitive etiquette and the electric atmosphere. Some words of encouragement from coach Shehzad Naqvi – and a small mountain of recovery snacks – ensured that everyone went into the bench press with hopes of qualifying in their respective age and weight classes still high.

Evie pressed 32.5kg, Cat 35kg, Ruth 37.5kg, and Isobel 45kg. Fortunately, this put most of the members in a safe position for hitting their qualifying totals, aside from Evie who would have to manage a massive deadlift of 107.5kg – 7.5kg above her current PB – in order to hit her target. Functioning mostly on sugar and adrenalin, the team moved onto the final lift of the day. Ruth pulled 95kg, Evie 102.5kg, and Cat and Isobel 107.5kg. Cheers and shouts of encouragement from the audience really helped everyone push through their sticking points, and then it was time for medals, and well deserved heaps of rest and carbohydrates. The most impressive lifter from the Wadham women that day was undoubtedly Isobel. She achieved a personal best in all three of her lifts, and she made an exceptional 250kg total look like a walk in the park! Her calmly confident demeanour was invaluable to the first year members when nerves began to creep in, and she has secured her place at Nationals alongside Cat and Ruth.

Evie narrowly missed the qualifying weight but is fired up and aiming to join the rest by hitting the required total at a different regional event next month. 

For the Linacre ladies, both Isabel and Jennifer also qualified for the national competition. 

WWW is proud to encourage all women* to participate in powerlifting. It is a highly accessible, empowering sport for beginners, with scope for huge competitive growth if desired. The first session for new members is free and they are held each Sunday at Wadham College gym. The size of the club allows training to be offered at a personal level from our supportive and experienced coach. For more information contact ruth.harris@wadham.ox.ac.uk.

Image credit: Catherine Walter

Clockwise from top left: Coach Shehzad Naqvi, Isobel Townend, Jennifer Gooden, Isabel de Berrie, Dina Hestad, Evie Fleck, Ruth Harris, Coach Catherine Walter and Cat Robinson