CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Ain’t no mountain high enough powerlifter Arlene van Diepen can’t cross. Heck, she might just lift the big old rock out of the way anyway.
Ok, no one save aliens or humans with machines can move mountains, but van Diepen has pushed a few stones out her way over her 60 years.
She’s lived with Crohn’s disease since she was 18 and played, coached and managed several sports, had an ileostomy since 2000, and Wednesday competes at in her first International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) world classic powerlifting championships which run June 6-17 in Calgary, Alta.
Whew, seems like a lot of heavy lifting already but van Diepen, who’s from Green Meadows, loves hefting the heavy iron as much for the challenge as the results.
“The feeling of accomplishment is unlike anything than any sport I’ve ever done,” said van Diepen, who is the aunt of former Mount Allison hockey standout Emily van Diepen. “It’s very much about form and technique. You find the right muscle at the right time, the right form and movement, and you can lift a weight you might not have lifted minutes before.”
van Diepen leaves Tuesday for Calgary and competes in the 84 kg Master 3 class on Wednesday. She qualified for the worlds after winning a bronze at the nationals in March. Not bad considering van Diepen has competed in the sport less than a year.
As a coach she’s drawn to her corner Tom Nicholls, a former world champion powerlifter and holder of dozens of nationals and international records, and she trains with Courtney Steele, who runs Full Throttle Fitness in Morell. Nicholls won’t be at the event as IPF assigns lifters coaches and assistant coaches for the worlds.
van Diepne credits Nicholls and Steele for her success, and sends a shout out to Steele for the push onto the platform.
“I had been working out with Courtney for a while and she said ‘why not try it?’. At my age I tried it and loved it. It’s an overall body workout. It’s competition for yourself to get personal bests. (When you’re going for) personal bests everybody’s cheering you on,” van Diepen said.
Her PBs include 110 kg for the squat, 52.5 kg for bench press (she said she needs to work on that discipline the most) and 140 kg for the deadlift. Her Wilks, a formula to calculate a powerlifter’s strength versus other powerlifters despite different weight classes, at nationals was 273.64 which qualified her for worlds.
She’s realistic about her chances to medal, but that’s not why she’s there.
“Ive done some research as to what’s going on in this category. I’m going for personal bests so I don’t expect to reach the podium,” said van Diepen, who admits to butterflies when it’s time to lift. “I do get nervous, but I’m able to focus it into what I’m doing. You do it in the gym, you do it on the platform.”
But no matter how the worlds shake out, van Diepen has no intention of surrendering her love of the lift and has no qualms about recruitment.
“It’s just about the sport. It’s a terrific sport for youth to get in to. They have to be very focused, disciplined in training and it’s a wonderful feeling of accomplishment.”
On the web at www.2018ipfclassic.com.