The evolution of junior powerlifting in Black Diamond has come into focus.
The Focus FITness team, working in conjunction with Nanton’s Decidedly Fit power team, had four of its junior competitors establish national records at three recent meets in the Canadian Powerlifting League, World Raw Power Federation and Global Powerlifting Committee.
“We look at it as igniting strength in the locals, that this program can teach them some of the fundamentals and find strength in people and move them into a successful approach on the platform is really becoming a great recipe,” said Focus FITness coach and competitor Trina Hampton.
“These kids are a testament to it because they’re in it and they succeed the first time they try. I think we have the most youth lifters in Canada in the federation so being able to be a part of growing the sport is super important, too, even making connections.”
In a COVID year, the Focus powerlifting team grew from three to eight, all of whom have records in one of the three lifts — squat, bench, deadlift — or in multiple categories.
“Trusting the process and how it’s changed them — that’s my favourite part,” Trina said. “How it changes who they are and opening up opportunities that they never saw before, no matter what your age whether you’re a teenager or in your 50s and 60s.”
Turner Valley’s Aidan Boyle-Gough, 16, was taken aback by the community aspect of the sport as he got his feet wet competitively for the first time.
“It was definitely a new experience, not what I was expecting,” Boyle-Gough said. “It was so much louder and everybody was supporting everybody else, it wasn’t necessarily competition with each other, but competition with yourself.”
Boyle-Gough came away with three national records from the CPL meet in squat, deadlift and total. He's since seen new future opportunities open up through powerlifting.
“Just from being at the gym I wanted to learn more about why it happens and now I’m starting to look more info universities that branch off into kinesiology,” he said. “I’ve talked to my physiotherapist, about where did you to go school? What’s it like?”
Isabel Marchant, also from Turner Valley, has quickly gotten up to speed a year into powerlifting with a background in rugby.
Marchant competed in all three events over the seven weeks, initially registering only in the deadlift, but adding both squat and bench to her repertoire, earning national and provincial records at every meet. To date she's earned six national records and 12 provincial records along with four additional unconfirmed national benchmarks.
The sport has been transformational for the 17-year-old.
“I came here and was super shy and now I’m not really shy anymore,” she said. “I just needed to find something to do in COVID because I play rugby, but everything was shutdown. I came in not really wanting to do powerlifting or anything, didn’t really know about it, but then Kim (Hampton) straight away said ‘you’re a powerlifter.’”
Hayden Hampton, a world-record holder in the deadlift, said it’s rewarding every time you step on the platform and beat a record or personal best. He added three national records to his totals at the WRPF meet in squat, deadlift and total.
He used his increasing strength on the gridiron this year as an offensive lineman on the Foothills Bantam Eagles football team. The Eagles had an undefeated regular season and won the Division II league championship last month.
“(That strength) helps a lot when you’re trying to get to the linebackers to make a hole for the running backs,” said Hayden, a left guard. “And passing lanes and holding the defensive lineman back for the quarterback.”
Lauren Marshall, 17, also won a national record in the deadlift.
Trina stressed powerlifting can be picked up at any age and become a lifelong activity.
Hayden’s younger brother Logan got his chance to get in the competitive ring at the age of seven.
Next on the horizon is the CPL provincials in April, nationals in Nanton in August and CPL North American championships next November.
“North Americans is the long-sight, next November and everybody who lifts with us has an opportunity to go,” Trina said. “That will be really exciting.”