Saturday, May 9, 2009

Lifting each other to new heights

PICTURED: (l-r)Coach Susan Abbott PICP, Lisa Nigh, Anita Santos

Posted By JACOB ROBINSON, Simcoe Reformer
08 MAY 2009

Powerlifting may seem like an individual sport, but three local competitors have proven it takes a team to carry the weight.

Simcoe's Anita Santos, Lisa Nigh of Jarvis and Hagersville resident and personal trainer Susan Abbott are among the best in Canada, and proved it by winning two bronze medals and a gold at the Canadian Powerlifting Union National Championships in Moose Jaw Sask. last month.

Santos met Abbott two years ago and began to train with her. It wasn't long until Nigh jumped on board and, since then, the three have been a force in both provincial and national competitions.

"You really can't do powerlifting by yourself," explained Abbott. "Your equipment, the weight, all those things demand you're there with assistance. The more I've watched; I can see form and depth. Often, if Lisa is squatting, even though I'm spotting, I've got Anita watching her depth or vise versa. It's definitely not an individual sport, it's a team sport."

Competitions are comprised of squats, bench presses and dead lifts. Each person gets three attempts at each lift, and two of the three judges on hand must give it the OK before the score can be official.

All three are friends and self-described fierce competitors. It's that combination that has kept them pushing for more -- even when they didn't think it was possible.

"We're all friends, but if somebody squats 300-pounds, in our minds we want to try and do that, too," said Nigh. "We work well together that way, and we encourage each other. It's been an honour to work with them."

This year's national event was the first for Nigh and, despite tearing muscles off her ribs just weeks before the competition, she managed to hit a personal best in her bench press.

In her second nationals, Santos earned personal bests in both the bench press and dead lift.

It's those kinds of moments that have kept them coming back for more.

"It is very addictive, especially if you have a personality that is driven to compete," said Nigh. "That adrenaline rush -- when you're up there, you don't see a person in the audience. (But) you get off of that stage, and there's all sorts of people there to pat you on the back, it's amazing. There's nothing like it."

Lisa Nigh demonstrating a high level of focus and determination.

Their feats are even more amazing when you consider all the time that goes into it. All three ladies are training three to four times a week, and often travel to the Niagara Powerlifting Club, which is the home to many international contenders, for sessions.

The schedule seems hectic, and is filled with sweat and sacrifice, but it also provides results both at the gym, and at home.

"I feel a lot more fit, slim and you just feel like you can conquer the world when you've squatted 300 pounds or benched over 150 and dead lift(ed) 300. You feel like you can do anything, it's very empowering," exclaimed Santos.

"Everyone should know that, if you set goals, no matter how high you think they are, you can achieve them -- it's just a matter of making it a priority and everything is workable."

That's not to say that there wasn't any doubt as the trio began to enter competitions. They simply worked through them.

"I had lots of inhibitions about my body, (and) my strength," said Nigh. "Once you get to the point where you (get) one competition in you and try it, you go up on that stage and it's overwhelming. You think, 'What am I doing? I'm 40-years-old, this is ridiculous. But why not? Why not try it?' And I've gotten over a lot of inhibitions that way."

What all three are focused on now is the 2011 World Championships to be held in St. Catharines. Santos, Nigh and Abbott are looking to show the world what they can do. After what Nigh, Abbott and Santos have done thus far, the sky is the limit.

"They are just starting to scratch the surface as far as using gear and really pushing the limits of it," Abbott said. "There's absolutely no limit, none at all."

No comments: