OF the seven Australian women competitors flying to eastern Europe for the World Powerlifting Championships, three are from Canberra.
And one of the trio, Elizabeth Craven, has a good shot of lifting her way to powerlifting champion of the world in her weight class.
Elizabeth, 42, of Kambah, has been number one in Australia for three years and has been to the World Championships four times, placing third last year.
Powerlifting has really grown in Canberra and doesn’t discriminate says Elizabeth, who started training three months after giving birth to her now five-year-old daughter, Abigail.
“It’s good to see women picking up weights. At my first nationals there were 13 women altogether, at the last one there was five times as many,” she says.
“There’s not a stigma around it anymore. People used to think powerlifting was huge scary guys who like to lift but we like dressing up and we also like lifting weights, too.”
Elizabeth will be competing in Belarus against her best friend Megan Hinchley, who she met through powerlifting.
“We’re both very strong headed and competitive, with a focus on bettering ourselves,” Megan, 36, of Acton, says.
Photos by MADDIE McGUIGAN
Having a friend who is also passionate about powerlifting means that Megan doesn’t bore her husband with too much talk of the sport.
“I’ll make Liz watch 100 of my lifting videos to check my form,” she says.
But Megan wasn’t always “a sporty person”, in fact she describes her ball skills as “horrible” and advises people not to invite her on to a mixed netball team.
“I really enjoy strength. If I lift something that I never thought I could, it feels amazing,” she says.
“There’s no better feeling than feeling strong.”
When Megan first started powerlifting as a hobby about 10 years ago she also noticed the lack of women.
“Sometimes there’s been competitions now where there’s more women than men,” she says.
Joining Elizabeth and Megan at the World Powerlifting Championships will be Kim Stevenson in the 63kg weight class.
“Going to the World Powerlifting Championships has been a five year dream in the making,” Kim, 35, of Dickson, says.
“Getting to this level has meant grinding week in and week out, working not only on my physical performance, but also the mental side of the equation.”
Kim wants to use this experience to empower and educate other women to succeed.
“I want to prove to the world that women can be strong, feminine and successful all at once,” she says.
While they’re all happy to get to the world championships, there is still a lot of hard work in the lead up and Megan says it won’t be a holiday.
She’s already preparing to pack some scales for the trip.
“How many people do you know take scales with them on a holiday?” she says.
To qualify in powerlifting, competitors need to make sure they remain within their weight category.
And after training for more than 15 hours a week as well as having to self-fund the trip to Europe in order to compete, it has become more of a job for them than a hobby.
World Powerlifting Championships will be held in Minsk, Belarus, June 14-25.