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Breaking records
Thursday 16th March 2017 @ 12:05 by Mark Phillip

Four Tameside powerlifters have returned from the BPU/ABPU  Northern Championships with a string of British records.

Jo Whiteley, Maria Andrews, Kim Cowell and Tom Martin, who represented the Pennine Strength team, achieved a total of 33 records at last weekend’s event, which was held on Saturday and Sunday at the Strength Therapy Unit in Salford.

Tom, 29, also made history at the competition, after totalling 957.5kg – more than any raw powerlifter in any federation in any weight class in history.

Reflecting on the occasion, Jo, 47, who began powerlifting three years ago, said: “Tom had some very big goals for this competition and was under a huge amount of pressure to perform on the day.

“It really didn’t help his preparation that there was an incident on the motorway on the way to the venue and he arrived over half an hour late which really ate into his warm up time.”

Nevertheless, Tom made it to the venue in time and put in a very easy looking 330kg squat as his opener, before smashing a British record – and a new personal best – with a 350kg squat.

After achieving a personal best of 207.5kg on the bench press, Tom moved onto the discipline he’s most famous for: the deadlift. Jo said: “It was well known that Tom was chasing a 400kg deadlift in competition having pulled it over a year previously in the gym but never quite managing to pull it off on the platform.

“He managed a 410kg deadlift in training a couple of weeks previously and it really looked like he had it in him on the day.

“The 350kg opener absolutely flew!  385kg for a second attempt was a new British record both for deadlift and total and the tension in the room was incredible.

“The referee called for the bar to be loaded to 400kg and the already packed room became even more crowded as everyone piled in, not wanting to miss such a historic moment.”

A historic moment indeed, but one with a tinge of humorous controversy. Jo explained: “Just as he locked out the deadlift the lights went out and everything went black except for the glow of the three white lights in the corner, signalling that he had got the lift.

“It couldn’t have been more dramatic and there was absolute bedlam in the crowd.

“Tom had not only just become only the second powerlifter in the UK to deadlift 400kg in competition – and at a much lower bodyweight – but he had totalled 957.5kg – more than any raw powerlifter in any federation in any weight class at any time in history, proving once and for all that he is the strongest UK powerlifter of all time. “

Jo was smashing records of her own just 24 hours earlier.

In fact, over the course of one day, Jo claimed 24 British records across a number of different age classes and divisions.

She also won a gold medal and an invitation to represent Great Britain at the European Championships in Finland in July. Looking back at her performance, she said: “The competition marked the first occasion that I’d squatted in a monolift.

“It’s completely different to what I’m used to and I was a little bit thrown by the unfamiliar environment but I didn’t let it stop me.

“I took the British record with my opening attempt of 137.5kg and extended it with each lift up to 150kg.

“This was a 10kg personal best for me on squat which is a fantastic result.”

Due to a menacing shoulder injury, Jo had been stuck on a personal best bench press of 75kg for over a year.

However, things changed for the better on Saturday. She added: “I started with 75kg and it felt light in my hands and pressed easily.

“77.5kg was just as easy and my coach called for 80kg to go on the bar.  I was a little nervous of such a big weight but it pressed just as easily as the previous two for a 5kg personal best and absolutely smashed through that bugbear. “

Looking to end the weekend on a high, Jo took confidence from her previous lifts into her final discipline: the deadlift. “I needed 187.5kg to put myself at the top of the ladies M2 deadlift rankings and thought I had a pretty good shot at it.

“I opened with 170kg which moved really well.

“182.5kg for a second attempt was really hard and I knew I didn’t have much more in me.

“187.5kg went on the bar for the final lift of the day and the support of the crowd was unbelievable.  I felt like the roof would come off!

“It came off the floor fast and I got it past my knees and nearly to lockout but my grip started to go and I just couldn’t finish it off.”

Despite being unable to successfully complete the lift, Jo still recorded a 7.5kg PB and had improved her overall total by 25kg.

Elsewhere, Kim was competing in knee wraps for the first time and hit PB’s in every lift, took four British records and won best female lifter on the day, while Maria claimed four British records herself.

Both have been invited to the European Championships.