Fifty-five-year-old powerlifting grandmother of nine Linda Smith broke the national deadlift record in her age group and weight class with a lift just under three times her body weight.
Smith broke the record at the USA Powerlifting state championship in Des Moines Jan. 25 with a lift of 151.5 kilos, or the equivalent of just over 333 pounds. Her lift topped the previous record by 0.5 kilos.
She also blew past the world record in her class, Smith said, but couldn’t claim the official title because world records cannot be set unless competition is at a world or international level. Competitors must be invited to compete in a world meet based on how well they score at nationals, she said.
Smith began powerlifting after joining Drew Murphy Strength gym in Tiffin, she said. Her initial goal was to pursue a personal-trainer certificate, but after completing some group classes, Smith said she quickly became more interested in powerlifting.
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Her interest in competitions emerged soon after, when a friend commented on a Facebook video from the gym of Smith lifting and recommended that she consider competing at a meet in Bettendorf — a little less than an hour away by car. Smith said that she was terrified at first but ended up doing well and wanted to compete in more competitions afterward.
Smith now competes in the Masters 2 – 57 kilo class, she said, and trains one-to-two hours a day for five days a week. Her family is very supportive and proud of all her hard work, she added.
“Two of my grandkids went to nationals and cheered me on there,” Smith said. “It’s nice to have that support there … you think about [them being there] while you’re lifting and it’s like, ‘I don’t want to let people down.’ ”
Smith said the support from her family makes her try harder in lifting and in competitions but, without Drew Murphy Strength owner Drew Murphy and his training, she wouldn’t be powerlifting at all.
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“She does everything that you ask of her. If you ask her to do something, she doesn’t really need an explanation as to why; she trusts you and puts her head down and gets to it, and [she] puts 100 percent effort behind doing it,” Murphy said. “That’s probably the biggest reason she’s so successful. [I] don’t have to spend a whole lot of time pushing her along and motivating her — she takes care of that on her own. She’s a driven and committed individual.”
Smith often trains alongside fellow powerlifter Kendra Galvan, who said she had back issues in the past that made her weary to try powerlifting, but Smith encouraged her to join the gym in 2017. They’ve been training together ever since and usually do the same general training routine and lifts, Galvan said.
“[Linda] has definitely been a role model for me,” she said. “She really pushes me to be confident and to believe in myself … You kind of have good days and bad days, whether you’re not feeling good physically or mentally, and Linda always pushes me and encourages me to get through my lifts.”