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Powerlifting Then and Now: Learning from Our Past and Our Peers

Sherine Marcelle

Posted on February 18 2019

Powerlifting Then and Now: Learning from Our Past and Our Peers




To know me is to know I love powerlifting. The rush of chalking my hands, grabbing that barbell

while sucking in the surrounding air before lifting hundreds of pounds is an unexplainable level

of joy. The crowd goes wild in competition and for a moment I feel like Wonder Woman, my

favorite childhood superhero. Nothing compares to such a feeling. Even now, I still feel that rush

whenever I hit the platform. People ask what is the secret to my confidence, how do I make it

look so easy, where do I get my technique? Every time the question comes up my answer is

always the same — I learn from great athletes who paved the way for me to be here today and

cultivating relationships that champion my success. It’s that simple, but also a process slowly

dying as we move forward in the world of powerlifting.

For me, it started in 1989, a young girl spending all of her free time in a gym in Tracy, California,

then later in Gold’s Gym, in Indianapolis, IN, full of dreams to become the strongest woman in

the world someday. My goal to be the best and the strongest in powerlifting, meant researching

every female and male superstar athlete in existence at the time to learn technique, methods

and strategy that would help hone my craft. It was my job to know all the great athletes and

what I knew them for best — all the world record holders, world champions and national

champions of powerlifting. Learning from legends and icons of my sport was key to my success

as a young athlete, and even as one of the strongest women in the world today, I still learn from

others. This is one thing I see missing from today’s powerlifters.

Many of the rookie or millennial powerlifters don’t know the veterans of the game. They have no

idea who the icons are and what lessons can be learned from their contributions. The only thing

that matters is bulkiness, and likes and followers on social media platforms. If I have millions of

fans why should I care about trailblazers before me? Legends may be icons but did they have

millions of people vying for their attention on a daily basis? It’s hard to answer these types of

questions since there wasn’t social evidence back then of athletic success unless you were on

television. Abilities were proved on stage while the social proof was the wins. I come from the

school of put up or shut up, talk is cheap, so we made the weights speak for us and there was

nothing subjective about it. The only posting that mattered was the numbers you hit on

competition day.

Another key to my success has been nurturing the relationships I’ve developed over the years.

Some of my darkest days were bright because of the love I felt from my family of friends. Back

then, there was a good ole family atmosphere of powerlifters — young and old, veterans and

rookies. After most national and world championship competitions all of us fellow lifters would

get together for dinner. We would talk, laugh and joke for hours, then exchange lifting ideas and

stories. Each of those sessions were invaluable lessons that helped me so many times on my

journey towards greatness. That comradery doesn’t seem to exist anymore. Competition is

fierce and cut-throat. Everybody wants to be the biggest, strongest — the best no matter the

cost. So who has time to share stories or learn from one another without feeling territorial about

their “winning” technique? We were a community of athletes who understood the concept of iron

sharpening iron. By sharing we made each other better. If one of us improved, the collective


National and world powerlifting championship competitions can draw anywhere from 200 to over

500 lifters from 30 different countries. Although the number of participants is still healthy, the

number of powerlifters actively competing has dropped significantly and the number of countries

that take part in the sport altogether. This means it’s imperative to remember the ones who

paved the way for powerlifting success and stay connected to those still active in competition.

Powerlifting is a wonderful sport that has taken me around the world, introduced new people

and ideas, and given me confidence to carry out all of my goals. It has enriched my life for the

better and I am so grateful for the icons that came before me and the friends who I forever call

my family. To continue to elevate the sport and the athletes who compete, we have to pull from

the past and the present to apply what has always worked and what the sport was built on...the

people. We the people make this sport great, so I will continue to mix this gumbo full of lessons,

experiences, highs and lows from yesterday’s trailblazer to today’s super athlete.

By Krista Noelle Ford

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  • Marty Sheets: March 02, 2019

    Right On Krista! I am proud to have been a part of your powerlifting heritage. Thanks for always being you and never forgetting your roots.

  • Olivia: March 01, 2019

    Great read!!! So proud of you! 🥰

  • Tawanda: March 01, 2019

    Amazing article! Thank you for sharing!

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