New powerlifting world-record holder is a 13-year-old girl from Colorado

Cameron Smith
January 26, 2012

Like many female powerlifters, Abbey Watson doesn't typically get a lot of press attention. Holding eight different world records for her relatively slight weight class -- 105.75 pounds -- as well as 23 U.S. and Colorado state records, Watson is the kind of peak performer who has forced the general public to take notice. To achieve that success, Watson spends at least three very early mornings each week in the gym, doing deadlifts and squats while surrounded by very large men.

Yet, it's what Watson does after that gym time that makes her stand out: She goes to middle school.

That's right: A 13-year-old eighth-grader in Colorado happens to be a powerlifting world-record holder. For the record (no pun intended), Watson owns the junior marks for bench press, squat, deadlift and total weight in the 105-pound unequipped division, among others. Most notably, Watson set the world record for squats in her division, lifting 143.3 points. She also deadlifts 176 pounds, close to twice her body weight.

As covered by Denver CBS affiliate KUSA in the video you see above, what's even more impressive is the speed at which Watson has become one of the world's best; she only started lifting three years ago.

"I think that if someone would have told me at the beginning of sixth grade I'd be lifting this much, I would never believe them," Watson, who now holds a deadlift record of 176 pounds, told KUSA.

While the early morning workouts and quirky weightlifting clothing -- check out her BACON socks -- could mark Watson out for some peer jibes, the fact that she is constantly proving herself with massive feats of strength ensures they don't. Rather, the eighth-grader said that when she tells male classmates how much she lifts, they tend to be intimidated.

That may not have been the initial goal when Watson's father, Steve Watson, first brought her to a weightlifting center for one of his workouts when she was a precocious sixth-grader. He simply hoped the one-off visit would inspire her to develop positive workout habits.

His daughter certainly has those now, as well as a room full of trophies, thanks in part to a psychological advantage her coach says may be her secret weapon.

"I think the reason Abbey is lifting weight that surpasses adults is because she's never been told she can't do it," Watson's head coach Jonathan Sabar told KUSA. "It's been amazing watching her grow and develop, and at this point, she is doing weights that are as heavy if not heavier than what full grown women do."

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