Eight months after her first competition, powerlifter Maddie Warren qualified to represent Canada on the world stage.
Now, she just needs a little community support to help her get the rest of the way there.
After winning in her age and weight class at the 2021 Western Canadian Championships in Richmond on Nov. 19 and placing second at the 2022 Canadian National Championships in St. John’s, Nfld. May 9, the Burnsview grad had climbed the rankings enough to earn her a spot on Team Canada for the upcoming International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) World Junior Championships in Istanbul, Turkey.
Not bad considering she only competed in her first IPF-sanctioned event this past September.
“For like a year before [switching to powerlifting] I was just doing regular gym workouts, just kind of trying to lose weight, that’s it,” Warren said.
Previous to that, she said, she hadn’t really exercised much in a few years, not since quitting hockey, a game she played for 12 years.
It was at the gym that she met her boyfriend, an Olympic-style weightlifter who urged her to give the sport a try.
“He was like, ‘oh, you’re pretty strong, you should try powerlifting.’ And I was like, ‘um, no, I dunno.’ I didn’t even really know what it was.”
In powerlifting, competitors try to hoist as much weight as they can using three different lifts: squat, bench press and deadlift. Competitors get three attempts at each lift, then their best result for each is tallied to give a total amount of weight lifted. Whoever lifts the most, wins.
About a year ago Warren decided to give the sport a try and switched her training routine, spending several hours in the gym every day. She hasn’t looked back since.
“I like it because it gives me something to work towards, whereas when I’m just working out sometimes it’s easy to just be like, oh I’m tired today, I don’t feel like doing it. It just kind of keeps you working as hard as you can,” she said.
“And then also when you get [personal bests] it’s such a good feeling because you know you worked hard. (…) It just keeps you wanting more. And the environment at competitions and at powerlifting gyms, everyone’s always super friendly, so it’s just fun.”
Warren, 20, competes in the Junior category (under 23 years old) in the 63-kilogram weight class, and has in-competition personal bests of 320 pounds (squat), 165 pounds (bench press) and 364 pounds (deadlift). Her “in the gym” bests are a little higher: 325 pounds (squat), 176 pounds (bench press) and 386 pounds (deadlift).
And while she’s excited at the chance to represent her country in Istanbul Aug. 27 to Sept. 4, the financial costs are daunting for the full-time student studying law enforcement at the Justice Institute of British Columbia.
“We have to pay for our tracksuits, team fees, flights, hotels, meals — everything, you name it. We don’t get any funding, which kinda sucks, so we have to pay for all of that ourselves,” Warren said.
To help with the costs, Warren — who also works part-time as a personal trainer — has started a GoFundMe page (https://gofund.me/f8b6cb91), which as of Wednesday morning had raise $1,680 of its modest $2,500 goal.
“I’m just trying to make as much money as I can so that I can get those flights pretty soon,” she said, noting the competition is only 10 weeks away.