Going for Gold

Next week WCAIR malaria researcher Irene Hallyburton is swapping the laboratories of Dundee for the powerlifting arena in St John’s, Newfoundland. Having only began powerlifting 2 years ago Irene has been selected to represent Scotland at the Commonwealth Powerlifting Championships (15-21 September). Perth and Kinross Sports Council have awarded Irene a small grant to help with the cost of attending the championships.

Originally Irene, 49, took up powerlifting to allow her to keep fit enough to compete in roller derby against 20-something-year-olds. Then she went to a powerlifting competition to support a friend and the rest as they say is history. Irene realised she was already able to lift the same weights as the competitors so decided to join in.

Irene will compete in the Masters 1, Sub 84kg weight division when she flies out to Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada later this week. Currently, her personal bests come in at 145kg for deadlift, 67.5kg for bench press and 130.5kg for squat. She will have to complete all three under competition rules to have a chance at bringing back gold.

Since taking up the sport, Irene says she has noticed an increasing number of women are joining the ranks of those aiming to raise the bar.
“Powerlifting is still an amateur sport but there are almost 400 affiliated Scottish powerlifters right now. It’s definitely growing the sport as more and more people, especially women realise that lifting weights doesn’t make you bulkier or more masculine. It makes you healthier and stronger. The side effects of correctly lifting heavy weights are fantastic.” A message echoed by new guidelines from the UK’s chief medical officers responding to the latest scientific evidence. (see BBC report, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-49609597)

Irene trains three or four times a week at the University’s Institute of Sport and Exercise (ISE) during her lunchbreaks and is coached by fellow female powerlifter Michelle Brand who has multiple international awards under her belt.

Watch Irene in training and discussing her motivation in this BBC Sports news item.

You can also catch Irene on STV news later this week.

Good Luck Irene from everyone at WCAIR.

Irene Hallyburton stands strong as she deadlifts 100kg. Photo by John Post.
Irene Hallyburton stands tall as she deadlifts 100kg in training. Photo credit: John Post