Powerlifters claim Commonwealth glory

Powerlifters claim Commonwealth glory

2 October 2019

A CROSSGAR mum and a Downpatrick teenager powered their way to a clutch of medals at the recent Commonwealth Powerlifting Championships in Canada.

Kathryn Stewart, a 48 year-old mother-of-three, lifted three golds and a bronze, while 17 year-old Claire Morrissey brought him four silvers.

Kathryn and Claire were part of the Northern Ireland team at the prestigious event which was held in St John’s, Newfoundland, and attracted competitors from 12 countries across the Commonwealth.

Both are grateful to their families and friends for their support and also Newry Mourne and Down Council which gave them eight weeks’ membership of Down Leisure Centre for training through its Elite Athlete Programme.

Kathryn, who was competing in the M1 (over 40) 57 kilo body weight category, won gold medals in the deadlift and bench disciplines and a bronze in the squat lift before coming from behind to win another gold for best overall.

She did it the hard way and achieved a magnificent personal best by improving on her total lifting weight by a massive 30 kilos.

Cheering her on every step of the way was a strong contingent of Northern Ireland supporters, including her partner, Alan.

“I think they nearly brought the house down with all their support,” Kathryn said. “I was cheered on by lots of people.

“I knew it was going to be a battle and I had trained really hard. With all the work I had done and the support I received there was no way I was going to lose.

“There was great support from the Northern Ireland management and the other competitors. Thankfully it all came good on the day.”

Kathryn, who says she is still on a high, couldn’t wait to get home to show her medals to her eight year-old daughter Chrissie Ray and seven year-old twin boys Max and Louis.

Kathryn was helped in her training at Downpatrick Boxing Academy and also by her strength coaches, Dara Herr and Mary Boyle.

“I can’t thank everyone enough. It was one of the best experiences of my life,” she added.

Claire’s four silver medals are all the more remarkable considering she was taking part in her first international competition and only took up the sport 18 months ago.

Competing in the Sub Junior (U-18) <57 kilo category, she won medals in the squat, bench press, deadlift and total lift disciplines, lifting a combined weight of 237.5 kilos.

She set personal bests in each discipline and also set new Northern Ireland records for her category.

“It was one of the best weeks of my life and I was just overwhelmed by the support of the whole Northern Ireland team,” she said. “The icing on the cake was the four silver medals.”

“I could not have done it without the support of all my family, friends and coach Aaron Kelly.”

There to watch it all were her delighted mum and dad, Ann-Marie and Michael. 

The Assumption Grammar School student — who is currently studying for her A levels — was introduced to powerlifting by her cousin, Adele Brown.

She trained at the CG Fitness gym in Annacloy and was soon breaking records.

She is the current Northern Ireland U-16 record holder in squat, deadlift and total in the <57 kilos class and also holds the U-18 and U-20 records for deadlift in the same class.

Claire added: “There was a great team spirit throughout the week with everybody in the NI team supporting each other during their lifts.”