The World-Record Holder Among Us

Croft_world-Record

Margot Croft broke the world record in powerlifting for the deadlift in August, 2021.

November 11, 2021 - 10:15pm

By Aly Winks

Vancouver Island University is home to a world-record holder. This is not one of the records that only people who love the Guinness Book of World Records cares about. It’s not for the longest moustache or the most Simpsons tattoos. Margot Croft holds the world record for her age and weight class for the deadlift. What does this mean? That she can deadlift more weight than any other female her age and size ever recorded.

Not only does she hold this honorific – she achieved it at her first-ever weightlifting competition. In her VIU work life she operates under the title of Administrative Assistant, Environment and Sustainability. Many will know her as the champion of Bike to Work Week and the organizational brains behind the Sustainability Advisory Committee.

As we know, the last almost two years have not been the easiest for most people, which makes Margot’s achievement even more noteworthy. It also gives us something to celebrate in a time when everything has the qualifier “during a pandemic” attached to it. Indeed, the goal was even harder to reach than it would have been in “normal times.” However, it’s not the pandemic that makes Margot’s story interesting. It is her desire, curiosity, drive, and her own personal circumstances that are revealed in the telling of this tale.

Margot headed into a fitness gym fueled by a desire to reconnect to a time when she was an aerobics instructor. She began attending group fitness classes and really enjoyed them. Throughout 2019, she only did group fitness at the School of Strength. One day, a trainer approached.

“He said he noticed that I moved differently than some of the other people in the class. He asked me what my goals were and if I was interested in weight training. Then he asked me to lift a (weight-loaded) bar. I did. He asked if it was heavy. I said ‘no.’ More and more weight was added -- to his surprise and my nonchalance,” Margot explains.

That was all it took for her trainer, Adam MacKay (Loaded Movement Academy), and Margot to both realize that perhaps she had some natural talent. This was the ignition of a passion that would eventually land her with a world record certification and an anticipated trip to the Canadian Power Lifting Union Nationals in Edmonton in 2023.

For several months, Margot added weight training to her fitness endeavours. She worked hard and improved. This took her into the pandemic and lockdown, which meant the closure of her gym. Like many other aspects of life, training sessions went virtual. Her fiancé gave her his years-old set of weights and a somewhat bent barbell. She and Adam would meet over Zoom for workouts that she did under a gazebo on her back deck. The gym did reopen with the lifting of COVID restrictions, but group fitness classes were phased out.

During this time Margot’s world was shattered. Her fiancé, always dedicated to a healthy lifestyle and her number one powerlifting supporter, took a swift health downturn and succumbed to a chronic condition.

Through her training, Margot found ways to manage her pain and grief.

“If I hadn’t had my training, I’m not sure I would have coped,” she says.

She discovered one of the unexpected benefits her training was providing. Her mental resilience was strengthened by her confidence which grew from her passion, success, and the community of people around her.

“It’s something I was talking about with a friend – you have these achievements of lifting and there’s a mental resilience that goes along with it. You think ‘it’s kind of scary but I can do it.’ Working with a coach and having a community around you can’t be discounted. Sure, lifting is an individual achievement, but it isn’t done without a community,” she says.

It is that community she credits with pushing her over the top and helping her achieve a world record.

It was at the German Club in Victoria in August 2021, that she broke the record. COVID-19 restrictions were limiting the number of people who could attend. One of the community members she met through training, is someone Margot describes as “this amazing woman who is a world class power lifter.” She came to support and coach Margot through her lifts. Coach Adam, her brother, and friends who trekked down from Errington and Nanaimo, were also there cheering her on.

“I was so nervous. I was the oldest lady there and I was surrounded by all these young, strong women and they were amazing. I watched them and was so impressed. I did not want to be the first person to lift, but of course I was,” she says.

At a meet, there are three lifts—squat, bench press, and deadlift. Competitors have three attempts to lift in each of those lifts. When it got to the deadlift, Margot knew her opening lift was going to break the national record. After her second attempt, a spectator said to her coach, “I can see your girl has a whole lot left in her. Why don’t you check the world record and see if you can break it?”

“On the world record attempt, stepping out on the platform, for me it got really quiet. It was more than I’d lifted so I was very focused on good form and just doing it. And then when I was successful, there was cheering and a standing ovation. That’s when I realized how loud it had been. It was amazing and so special.”

Margot now has her sights set on the Western Canadians at the Richmond Oval on November 14, 15, and 16. If she performs as she has at her first two meets, she will qualify for Nationals. She has two years to attend after reaching a qualifying total and is planning for Edmonton in 2023 stating, “It will be nice to have another year of training before I go play with the big kids.”

“This sport has brought so much to me. It’s fun and interesting and healthy,” she says. “You have to treat each lift with respect and always focus on form over weight so you don’t injure yourself.”

Asked what her goals beyond Edmonton are, she is quick to answer.

“I want to have really good form. When people see me, I want them to notice my form before they notice how much I am lifting,” she says. “And I do want to win.”  

 


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