RICHMOND (NEWS1130) – What’s your Granny doing today? Rhonda Heaslip is a grandmother and realtor from Nanaimo who will be grappling with a 915-pound barbell in an attempted record-breaking powerlift in Richmond today.
“I hold 10 Canadian records and three Commonwealth records and I have a World Silver from 2011,” the 5’2″ former search and rescue aircraft technician tells News1130.
“I got into it back in 1979 when I was in the military. I was in basic training and doing a five-mile run regularly while still practicing gymnastics from high school days and I stepped in a gopher hole and turned my ankle really badly.”
While dealing with crutches and a cane, Heaslip’s doctor told her to report to the weight lifting club at the drill hall and learn some exercises to help with her rehab.
“Well, back then there were no women in the gym; it was me and those guys. It was a bit of a different experience but they got me going on my exercises and once I was off the cane they got me squatting, benching and deadlifting. I was having fun with it, I really enjoyed it and I felt welcomed. I thought I was lifting normal weight because there were no women to compare myself with and the guys were all lifting more than me,” she explains.
Heaslip was noticed. After being encouraged to compete, she cracked all the Canadian records and within months took Bronze in her category at the World Powerlifting Championships.
“I just love what I do. I love how it makes me feel, I love the way it challenges me mentally and physically. It’s really helped me grow as a person and realize that I’m the only one who can set limits for myself.”
And she sets few limits with her career spanning from the Canadian Armed Forces to carpentry to inspirational speaking and her interest in sports ranging from gymnastics to hockey to powerlifting.
“At age 53 I broke all my own national records again and totalled 15 kilos more than I did at age 36,” she says. She plans to “stay actively competitive for as long as my body will allow.”
Today she will attempt to beat her Commonwealth and World Silver record by lifting 915 pounds at the Canadian Powerlifting Championships at the Richmond Olympic Oval, all while showing her grandmotherly heart.
“I’m going to be competing to place on the world team, looking to go to Orlando to compete at my eighth world championship this fall. But I’m also raising funds for BC Children’s Hospital,” Heaslip adds.
Her Raise the Bar campaign has raised $3,600 for the new emergency ward at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and this year she is raising money for BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.
You can watch Heaslip’s record attempt this afternoon. Donations to Raise the Bar can be made by calling 250.755.7690.