A female powerlifter says she will continue to lift until she “can’t lift anymore” after becoming a double world record holder last month.
Ayshea Ullah, 37, broke world records in the squat and deadlift 90kg+ senior categories whilst representing Ireland at the World Drug Free Power Lifting (WDFPF) World Single Lift Championships in Dusseldorf, Germany in June.
Lifts of 140kg in the squat and 190.5kg in the deadlift saw mother-of-three Ullah secure two world records.
“I just want to keep going. It’s a personal journey for me. This is about how much I can lift until I can’t lift anymore,” said Ullah, who until a year ago had only ever lifted “a bit here and there” at the gym.
“It’s a real recent thing,” explained Ullah, who moved to Galway in Ireland 17 years ago, having previously lived on Haines Way in Leavesden’s Sherwood Estate. “I joined crossfit, it’s kind of like a military boot camp almost, and you do a lot of body weight stuff. It’s a system of exercise which has come over from America and is very popular.
“One of the things they do in there is a lot of strength and conditioning, so three of the lifts we do in powerlifting, they do in crossfit.
“Every six weeks they did a strength test to see how strong you were getting with the training. I did that after six weeks of training with them and they realised that I was actually a lot stronger than most of the women and a lot of the fellas in there as well.
“At that point they asked if I’d be interested in training to do powerlifting. I’d never actually lifted weights previously in any other capacity than in the gym,” she admitted.
The weekend began with the squat lift competition and Ullah went into the event expectant, rather than confident, of breaking the world record weight.
“I was fairly sure I would get the squat record, which at the time for my weight was 130kg,” explained Ullah.
“The week before, in the gym, I had worked up to my opening squat which was going to be 130kg, which was the current record. I then did a 140kg squat, so that was it; I knew I was going to blow the world record away, which was great.”
She continued: “With my third lift I went for 150kg but didn’t break the specific depth you have to hit but I would have set the record then at 20kgs higher than it was.”
Owing to a shoulder injury, Ullah, who arranges independent living services for the disabled, sat out the bench competition, affording her a brief period of respite before the deadlift.
Expectant ahead of the squatlift, Ullah’s success in the deadlift caught her by surprise.
She recalled: “I did my first lift at 175kg and that was a perfect lift. Then I went to 180kg – which I’d only lifted twice before – and that was a perfect lift. I then said ‘ok, I’ll give 185kg a bash’. I’d never lifted it before and I got a perfect lift.
“At that point, everyone kind of went, ‘There’s a good possibility she might actually break the deadlift record.’ At that moment I was in the zone and said ‘What do I have to lift to break it by at world record level?’ And it was half a kilo, so I said: ‘Fine, stick 190.5kg on it and let’s see’.
“I walked up to it and up she came, it was a perfect lift. It felt as though I was lifting the 175kg – my opening lift. It was amazing; I can’t even put into words what happened at that point.”
Ullah continued: “It was absolutely incredible, I remember feeling just stunned. All of the girls from the Irish team came running up to me.
“I actually had to walk away because I was completely shocked at what I’d done. Even now, it’s hard to fathom what I did.”
Celebrations in Dusseldorf were muted due to the physical exertion of powerlifting, coupled with the fact Ullah travelled only with French Vanoli club-mate, Aisling Ward.
Since returning to Ireland, the daily grind has afforded Ullah little time to revel in her world record-holder status.
“People come up to me and ask me about it but it still hasn’t sunk in,” she said. “I have three kids as well as a full-time job and I train four nights a week, so I tend to forget in the routine of life that I’m actually a world record holder. Then somebody will come up to me and say it and I get all emotional or say, ‘Oh yeah, I did that, didn’t I?’”