A RECORD-breaking New Norfolk powerlifter has her sights set on smashing a world record in 2022, as she prepares for upcoming key competitions.
Jess McCallum holds the Australian deadlift record for women at a whopping 272.5kg, just short of the 289kg world record, which Jess aims to beat this year.
“I’m training really well and putting on muscle mass and reckon I’m on the road to lifting around 300kg this year,” said Ms McCallum.
The 41-year old’s speciality is the ‘raw deadlift’ where the barbell is lifted off the floor to the hips, and back down, without any supporting equipment.
A relative newcomer to the sport, Jess started seriously powerlifting just five years ago – after a get-fit campaign saw her lose an incredible 140kg.
“I started going to the gym as often as I could and really enjoyed the body pump classes which involved weights,” she said.
“I became fit and toned and someone at the gym suggested I might like to try powerlifting and I found I loved the buzz, and it went from there.”
Sustaining her schedule is not just physically demanding but financially stressful as she holds down a fulltime job and trains in her spare time.
“It’s really hard because powerlifting doesn’t have much of a profile in Australia, even for males, compared to America where it’s a quite lucrative professional sport,” she said.
“I really have to scrimp and save to afford the things I need for training and then to get to the next competition which often involves things like flights, accommodation and entry fees.”
Jess also manages epilepsy which presents a challenge for any athlete but especially one whose sport involves lifting dangerously heavy weights.
“I have to be careful because having a seizure during training or competition can lead to serious injury,” she said.
“If I were to have a seizure just before a competition, it could literally ruin my chances, no matter how many months I might have trained.”
Jess says more women are realising the benefits of being physically strong and the feeling of empowerment and its flow-on benefits for mental health.
“Powerlifting is definitely growing in popularity because when I first started there were about 20 per cent women competing at events, now it’s more fifty-fifty,” she said.
“It can be a tough sport with injuries and then when your strength plateaus it’s disappointing but if you push through all of that it can be so rewarding.”