Shirlee Petrat will be competing at the upcoming BC Masters weightlifting competition on Mar. 9 in order to qualify for the 2019 IWF World Master Championships.Photo by Darren Hull

Shirlee Petrat will be competing at the upcoming BC Masters weightlifting competition on Mar. 9 in order to qualify for the 2019 IWF World Master Championships.Photo by Darren Hull

Okanagan weightlifting record-holder eyeing World Championship

The Summerland resident took home silver in the 2017 World Master Games

  • Jan. 20, 2019 12:00 a.m.

B.C. record-holding weightlifter and Summerland resident Shirlee Petrat has her eyes set on returning to the invitation-only IWF World Master Championship.

Petrat previously competed in the Ogopogo Lifting Competition in 2016, taking gold and then she went on to compete in the 2017 World Master Games in New Zealand, where she took home the silver medal. This year, the event is being held in Montreal from Aug. 16 to 24, and recent registration changes to the sport makes qualifying more challenging.

“The (IWF Master Committee) has tightened up on the weightlifting, meaning it’s not so easy to get into the Masters anymore. There was a lot of Crossfitters trying to compete in Olympic weightlifting, so what they did and I know a lot of people went up in arms about it because it basically eliminated thousands of lifters, they changed the weight categories,” said Petrat.

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The IWF Master Committee upped all of the bodyweight categories for competitors, meaning that the qualifying total to compete in worlds for each age/bodyweight category increased. Furthermore, simply meeting the qualifying total is not enough for an invitation, as a letter from the IWF World Master Championships 2019 states “the best weightlifters in each age/bodyweight group will be given preference in the registration process. There will be no arbitrary quotas; instead, the top contenders for medals will all be guaranteed the right to enter the IWF World Championships.”

“They are only taking 700 athletes worldwide, and I believe I will probably be the only Canadian competing in my age/bodyweight category,” said Petrat. “And I’m currently lifting over 20 kilograms over the qualifying total, so I’m way up there.”

Petrat only needs to lift 67 kg to qualify for Worlds, but she currently lifts in the high 80s. Photo by Darren Hull

Petrat will be submitting her results from the BC Masters, taking place March 9, to qualify for worlds. She will be lifting in the 55-59 age category and 49 kg bodyweight category, so the qualifying total she must meet is 67 kg — and she is currently lifting in the high 80s.

“I feel like I will be accepted in my age and bodyweight category because at the last World Masters Games there was only a total of four of us competing,” said Petrat. “And that’s when I came home with a silver. But we are all very competitive.”

Petrat is relatively new to the sport, only picking up weightlifting about five years ago. She believes the stricter regulations are necessary to limit the number of competitors who are not lifting anywhere close to the qualifying totals.

“I think it’s fair, I know a lot of people would disagree with me but most of those are Crossfitters, they don’t understand the sport. You have to lift heavy, that’s why it’s called weightlifting,” said Petrat. “We don’t do 15 to 20 reps like you would do in Crossfit. We’d be lucky in a training session to snatch or clean jerk two to three reps at a time, because we’re lifting extremely heavy weight and we train for that. Our central nervous systems are more conditioned.”

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She noted that it is very expensive to run weightlifting events — noting the cost of officials, referees and the venue. In her experience, these events in the past have been “boggled down with hundreds of people lifting very little weight.”

“When I have to sit and wait and wait for the lady lifting 25 kilograms, it’s great and I think it’s fantastic that the woman is doing that, I also think ‘Aye, maybe you should be doing something different,'” said Petrat. “They basically are encouraging these guys to compete at the local level and have fun. But what they want at worlds is just the world-class athletes competing.”

This hobby has turned into a passion for Petrat, who works four days per week as a personal trainer. She has even gone as far as to install a specialized Olympic weightlifting system with a lifting platform in her home.

Petrat is hard at work in the weeks leading up to her first competition, training in Kelowna under Guy Greavette, a 1988 weightlifting Olympian, at the Vikings Weightlifting Club. Her rigorous training schedule involves two days of three-hour gym sessions, one day of a three-hour home session and two days at the Penticton Community Centre for joint care and core work.

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Jordyn Thomson | Reporter


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