Academic powerlifter sets goal to break own records

A 77-year-old champion powerlifter has said she is planning to break her national and world records.

Catherine Walter, an Oxford University fellow, who lives in Chilton, Oxfordshire, plans to participate in the British Drug Free Powerlifting Association (BDFPA) Full Power Championships on 13 July in Suffolk.

In 2018, she had already won competitions and set records, having started lifting only six years prior.

Ms Walter said she competed "to show other women of all ages and abilities that they can be stronger too".

The former lecturer in Applied Linguistics at Linacre College started worrying about her health when she reached the age of 65.

Her son encouraged her to start lifting heavy weights "for a few repetitions" twice a week.

"And when I got into it, it turned out that it wasn't that I wasn't good at sports, it just took me 65 years to find a sport that I was good at," Ms Walter said in an interview for BBC Radio Oxford.

As a competitive sport, powerlifting consists of three attempts at maximal weight on three lifts - squat, bench press, and deadlift.

Competing is possible in single lifts, as well as in full power where the score is the total of the three lifts.

"I do all three lifts. I have the world records for my age and body weight, and all three of those lifts at various age categories as I grow older," Ms Walter said.

In March 2020 she contracted Covid, which she is still living with.

"In the beginning of long Covid, I couldn't walk 100m without being completely exhausted," Ms Walter said.

"But whereas walking tired me out enormously, lifting didn't seem to.

"And it has so many benefits - I have the bone density of a 20-year-old, I have muscle mass, I can move around."

For the upcoming competition, she said she planned to "break all three of my records and my total at that".

"At my age of 77, you have the choice of two directions - and I'm not going down," she said.

"I continue to compete so I can stay healthy into old age, and to show other women of all ages and abilities that they can be stronger too."

Ms Walter said she had been wearing rainbow socks in support of for LGBTQI+ athletes, which she said was "an important aspect of the values of her team, Linacre Ladies that Lift.

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