When, a few years ago, Pauline Magri decided to take up a regular gym routine, she figured she’d be maintaining a basic level of fitness, at most. Today, she is 69 years old and the proud holder of several world and national records in power-lifting.
She is the first to say that she never expected to achieve this level of success at a sport that she only took up by chance, not least because she had never been the ‘fitness freak’ sort.
And yet, at an age when most people start adopting a more leisurely routine, Ms Magri continues to break records and to reach personal bests.
Power lifting, for those who are not conversant with gym speak, combines three weight lifts: squat, bench press and deadlift. The competing athlete attempts a maximum weight single lift of a barbell loaded with weights. In short, not the sort of sport you expect to find a granny indulging in.
Ms Magri, who relocated to Australia years back, laughs when I point out this. She remembers starting gym classes more as a way to strengthen her health and well-being, than for any ‘serious’ reasons.
Without quite knowing how, things spiralled until today, hers is one of the more well-known names on the powerlifting circuits.
“I suppose it all started when I decided to obtain some qualifications in personal training. I did so well that my interest was piqued into delving deeper into the topic. My coach was running a Power Hour class at the time, so I started taking that,” she reminisces.
It was clear from the start that she had a natural inclination for ‘lifting’, and soon she officially became part of Team Kuipers, led by coach Terence Kuipers.
So, what’s the difference between powerlifting and weightlifting?
Ms Magri explains that in both disciplines, the aim is to lift the heaviest weights for one rep, but the main difference is the movements that are completed during the competitions.
Ms Magri broke her first world record, Australian record and achieved a first in Women’s Masters on December 9, 2017.
Since then, she hasn’t looked back.
Seven world records and 14 Australian records among her achievements
Today, she has a personal best of 90 kg for the barbell squat, 46kg for the bench press, and a whopping 150kg for deadlift, all achieved at competition.
The athlete, who is currently looking for a sponsor to support her during training and competitions, counts seven world records and 14 Australian records among her greatest achievements.
Asked how come she had never been attracted to the sport in her youth, she says that when younger she was too busy working and raising her children.
“Back then, the gym simply did not exist for me. I never thought that I would become a World and Australian record holder, that’s for sure. My husband Alfred is supportive and goes along with whatever is needed, even when it comes to house chores,” she said.
Her children and grandchildren are equally supportive, despite the obvious worries about potential injuries.
“But my coach makes sure that my techniques are spot on, and we are always working towards getting stronger by doing the right training. They find that reassuring.”
Of course, taking a discipline to such a high level is a commitment that must affect an entire lifestyle, I point out.
Ms Magri agrees, adding that she trains for two hours much on a daily basis.
“But in truth, my lifestyle has not changed drastically, apart from working harder to fit in the training hours and my other commitments. I eat really good food, and I do not have to do without. I try to drink lots of water, which is hard at times, but my body knows when it has had enough. And I try to keep within a weight category that works for me when it gets close to the competitions. But that’s pretty much it,” she said.
Besides giving her an enormous sense of satisfaction, her achievements within a notoriously tough discipline has also turned her into a bit of a celebrity.
“A lot of people come up to me and say that I inspire them. I just giggle, and I confess that I love hearing this. Because even when you are old, you can lift,” she concludes with a touch of justifiable pride.
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