Sam Firouzli set three provincial powerlifting records at Lift the Rock earlier this month in Victoria, while Jenn Aitken, middle, earned a silver and Jennifer Bowker achieved a personal-best lift. (GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin)

Sam Firouzli set three provincial powerlifting records at Lift the Rock earlier this month in Victoria, while Jenn Aitken, middle, earned a silver and Jennifer Bowker achieved a personal-best lift. (GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin)

Nanaimo powerlifters set B.C. records, personal bests

Dolly’s Gym had a contingent of athletes at Lift the Rock on Nov. 10 in Victoria

Nanaimo weightlifters showed a lot of different kinds of strength, and it lifted them to records and personal bests.

Athletes from Dolly’s Gym competed at the Lift the Rock meet Nov. 10 in Victoria, a B.C. Powerlifting Association event. Six of them medalled and all were successful, coaches said.

Dolly Skailes, co-owner, said she’s proud of the athletes and their accomplishments and Patrick Skailes, co-owner, said the results “mean everything to us and the team.”

“Everybody did excellent, everybody did their best and what more can you ask for?” Patrick said.

Some of the best results were achieved by Sam Firouzli, who set B.C. records for his weight class in the bench press, deadlift and total weight.

He’s only been powerlifting for about a year, but worked hard the last six months specifically training for Lift the Rock. Firouzli said he had a rough week just before the meet, lost and had to re-gain “quite a bit of weight,” and had to adjust his tapering schedule.

“So I was a little bit concerned that I wouldn’t be able to lift as much, but I actually hit [personal bests],” he said. “I didn’t even know I could hit as high as I did on my squat or on my deadlift.”

Firouzli credited “amazing” team spirit and support from the gym in helping him work toward the individual goals he has been setting.

“It’s just really nice to see that all the time I’ve put in at the gym, all the hard work, all the dedication – it takes a lot to be consistent, to show up all the time to do it,” he said. “So when it comes to the actual meet day and you hit the numbers you’ve been looking forward to and you achieve the goals you want to, it means everything.”

Jenn Aitken said she only went to compete to say that she did it, so to win a silver medal was unexpected for her. She said “it definitely lit the fire,” and she’s setting goals around related athletic competition over the next two years. Aitken said she’s “never been in better mental and physical condition” and said the gym supports its members by setting out a program.

“We just work at it and chip away at it,” Aitken said. “It’s all new to me, but I love the journey.”

Jennifer Bowker was able to set a personal best at Lift the Rock. She said her first powerlifting competition was intimidating, as being the centre of attention is unavoidable in the sport.

“You’re very much centre stage, with everyone looking at you. It’s a show of your strength, right? So it’s a pretty vulnerable position,” she said.

Her initial squats didn’t go well, but she was proud of the way she was able to respond in the bench and deadlift.

Bowker said she first came to Dolly’s Gym in tears, scared about her health, and was embraced and supported from the start.

“I’ve been to other gyms, I did roller derby, I’ve done other things in my life, but there’s something special that’s going on here,” Bowker said. “There’s a real core group of support and it doesn’t matter where you’re starting at or what your goals are.”

Also at Lift the Rock, Dana Beirnes won gold and best new lifter and Curtis Skipper also won gold in his weight class. Megan Helston and Morgan Boghean both earned silver.

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