The Pink Powerlifter
“Petite and pink” are the first words that spring to mind when I first meet Linda Lynch. Dressed in a fuchsia pink jumper with a pink handbag, pink glasses, pink nails and even a striking pink streak through her blonde hair (initially done as a misunderstood joke that she can no longer be without); the quick-to-laugh 60-year-old almost seems to radiate pink as she warmly shakes my hand. The last word you’d associate with her would be “powerlifter” and perhaps even “gold medallist sprinter”, but that’s what this inspirational retiree is. And she’s only just recently embraced these talents.
“It doesn’t matter what age you are, if an opportunity arises — even if you think it’s beyond you — take that challenge because we never know what we’re capable of” – Linda Lynch
“For some reason people seem to accept the fact that I’m a sprinter, but the powerlifting is a bit out of left field,” Linda says, who later confesses her house is also pink, but she draws the line at her car — now that would just be going too far. “My middle son said to me the other day, ‘Gee Mum, we never saw this coming’, and I said to him, ‘Neither did I!”
Always athletic in her youth, but never taking it further; Linda’s life took a new direction in her late 50s. Happily coasting along and being grateful for her three adult boys and her beloved husband Ray, in 2004 her soul mate was diagnosed with bowel cancer and passed away in January 2007. This understandably floored Linda, and she did little in 14 months. But then in 2008 she discovered something — if she went hard-out with exercise, she could detach herself from the crippling grief for an hour. “I started at FIT Solutions and Dan [Strickland] would say to me, ‘Leave it at the door Linda, don’t bring it in’, and those one-hour sessions became so healing for me,” she says.
Then one day in September 2010 Linda attended a regular training session with Dan where he had everyone sprinting in the car park. That was when he noticed something in Linda that no one else had. “He saw me run and asked if I’d thought about running Masters,” tells Linda. “I love sprinting — it feels like I’m flying — and I’d played touch before and knew I had speed, but hadn’t put any more thought into it. I told him, ‘I’d hate to die wondering’; so he adjusted my training schedule.”
The following Easter in Brisbane, Linda returned home with two silvers in the 55-59 age division in the Australian Masters Athletic Championships, which she says totally surprised her, but proved she could do it. The next step was finding a track coach to hone her sprinting technique (Megan Minehane), which led her to netting several other medals, including two golds at the Queensland Masters Athletics State Championships in February 2013 and gold and silver in the National Championships in Canberra in March 2013. In March this year Linda and three other Masters team mates claimed a silver medal in the 4x200m relay at the World Masters Indoor Championships in Budapest. “The other ladies had been running their whole lives and I was the newbie, but it was a fantastic experience being part of a team and such a big learning curve,” says Linda who is gearing up for the Athletics North Queensland Championships in October and Pan Pacific Masters Games on the Gold Coast in early November.
But before then — after much deliberation — she has decided to put her (pink) hat in the ring for the Australian Powerlifting Championships on August 22. And — if the YouTube clip of her first serious attempt just before Christmas where she deadlifts 107.5kg is anything to go by — she’s in with a good chance.
“The current Australian record for my weight and age is 97kg for the deadlift and 195.5kg for the triple [bench press, back squat and deadlift], and last Wednesday I did 225kg for the triple,” Linda says.
With just over a month to go, Linda is training five times a week and is on a strict meal plan with hopes to get to 230kg (“a nice round number”); but she’s looking forward to every session with her coach Rob Innes.
“I wouldn’t call training an escape now, but it’s something I genuinely look forward to every day,” Linda says, who has nine different pairs of training shoes — all pink. “People say to me, ‘I couldn’t do that Linda’, but it’s just taking that first step. It doesn’t matter what age you are, if an opportunity arises — even if you think it’s beyond you — take that challenge because we never know what we’re capable of.”
On Friday, August 23, 2014 Linda claimed the Australian Powerlifting Masters Record for Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift (60+ age group); lifting a total of 242.5kg and smashing her goal of 230kg. Woohoo – well done Linda!
Squat - 80kg
Bench Press - 47.5kg
Deadlift - 115kg (a new PB)