By Missy Katner
Lumen Assistant Editor
Becky Cook, a freshman nursing major from Necedah, Wis., has competed in powerlifting at the state, national, and world levels. In September of 2011, Cook broke a world record in her age bracket, squatting 247.5 kg (543.5 pounds).
“I picked up my bar and knew I had it. I knew I won. After I set down the weight and saw the three white lights, I walked over to mom and started crying,” Cook said, explaining her best moment in powerlifting at the 2011 world championship.
She won the gold medal and stood atop the platform as the national anthem was played.
“I had my hand over my heart and I was so proud to be able to represent the U.S.A,” Cook said.
For those who are not familiar with the sport of powerlifting, Cook explained the basics. There are three types of lifts: squat, bench, and deadlift. An individual gets three attempts for each type of lift.
Three judges give a white light (akin to thumbs up in powerlifting) or a red light to score each of the lifts.
All powerlifters must wear compression suits which are skintight and uncomfortable, in Cook’s opinion.
“They are made of rough material that is so tight that they make cuts. They’re insane and they hurt, but they protect your back and stop you from getting hernias. The suits can increase your lift from 445 to 600 pounds,” she said.
Cook first considered powerlifting when she was in middle school. She had tried other sports such as volleyball and basketball, but decided she didn’t like them.
Her older brother joined the powerlifting club in Necedah, so Cook met with Coach Eric Mach. The first time they tested out her squat, she fell as they were adding weight. Cook credits her mother for providing the support she needed to “stick with the sport.”
Necedah has produced seven world champions in powerlifting by women. To date, Cook has been to two world championships in the Czech Republic and Canada.
“You have to earn your way to the world championship,” Cook explained.
She described the experiences as amazing although tough because all plane tickets, entry fees, and other expenses must be paid by the competitor.
Ultimately, competing at the world level was worth the struggle. As Cook stated, “I have friends from all over the world.”
Some colleges have powerlifting programs; but, Viterbo does not. Cook occasionally lifts in the Mathy Center but plans on taking a break from competing during college. However, she said she definitely “wants to continue it after college.”