When we think about women powerlifting, often we have the notion of muscular and bulky women without make up. This assumption is shattered when Expat Life had the opportunity to meet an attractive blonde mother, Sara Guzman who represented Thailand to win a gold medal at The World’s Classic Championships of Powerlifting in Sweden this year. We are here to learn about her journey, not as a professional athlete, but a recreational one. Anyone who wishes to pick up powerlifting as a new personal goal may find some useful tips here. Every champion has a story, here is Sara’s.
Why do it?
Powerlifting is challenging and requires a lot of training, discipline, dedication and determination. I asked Sara “Why do it?” and she explained, “Roughly around six years ago, I got tired of the routine that the standard commercial gym has to offer. I was working out and in good shape, but I craved for something more exciting and challenging. That led me to join the Cross Fit world starting with a Cross Fit programme on Sathorn. Cross Fit is a strengthening and conditioning exercise where you have a mixture of aerobic, body weight, and Olympic lifting exercises with compound movements. In the end, Cross Fit did not turn out to be my fitness goal as it is a sport where one can easily be injured due to their fast pace routine. I ended up getting injured during the process and finally decided to forgo this type of training. During my recovery, one thing was clear to me that I wanted to keep lifting weights in the style that is typical of Cross Fit.”
Sara’s journey started when she was invited as a spectator to watch a powerlifting competition in Bangkok that was being organised by the Thai Powerlifting Federation. She was fascinated and attracted to the world of Powerlifting. She found this sport aligned with her objectives and decided to start training for it. Explained further, “Firstly, I know that powerlifting offers numerous health benefits, from changing your body composition to improving your mental health. You get to build muscles, your bones get stronger, and your overall strength improves, it keeps you sane, prevents injuries, who would not want all those benefits? I reckon it is a perfect newfound passion and hobby at my age.”
Self-challenge perseverance test
Describing her experience with powerlifting, Sara proclaimed, “It is just “amazing”, I have discovered how much determination I have and how strong mentally I can be. Just like any journey there are ups and downs, there are some hard days but at the end it is all worth it. Building my self-confidence also helped me to cope with the long lockdown whilst separated from my family. I have also made some very good friends and connections through the sport from all across the world which has also been another great source of motivation and support.”
Recalling her fond memories over the countless local competitions she participated in, “In November last year, I broke the world record in a competition in Bangkok with 176 kilograms on a Deadlift. It was a huge highlight for me, seeing everyone cheering for me was something that I will never forget along with the nerves and the rush of adrenaline in that moment… it was epic!!!”
This September, Sara proudly represented Thailand on the podium to receive a gold Medal for Deadlift and placing Thailand with bronze medal overall at The World’s Classic Championships of Powerlifting in Sweden. Sara affirmed, “I honestly did not believe that I could be a champion in a World Competition. It was surreal at times to be at the competition and see all of the best lifters from across the world and to be able to compete against them and be successful! We always doubt how capable we are to achieve anything that we would like to. It really motivated me to continue to improve so that I can do that again and achieve even more. I want to keep making the people who support me proud.”
Sara thanked her husband, Cesar Guzman for all the financial and mental support. “Both my husband and daughter were extremely supportive of my goals and knowing that was good motivation. Unfortunately there is not much available in terms of financial support for athletes at this time, which does create some obstacles for talented lifters to be able to compete at this highest level. There were also a lot of challenges due to the Covid-19 surrounding the competition such as the travel restrictions, which made things harder, but it was all worth it in the end. In addition to the support from my family, I had my coach who was always giving me mental support and my dear friend, Ana Carolina always gave me the best tips to believe in myself.”
I asked Sara on her next plans, she confidently shared, “The sky’s the limit! I want to keep competing and continue getting better. I want to continually break the world record in a world competition and make that record official. I want to increase the national records I already hold here in Thailand and travel the world to more competitions to win even more championships for Thailand. I love training and the process of it, as soon as I returned to Thailand after the competition I was back in the gym to start to getting ready for the next event and keep improving myself!”
General tips for powerlifting
As a world class champion, Sara shares some valuable advice for pursuing this healthy sport.
- First tip is to learn with a knowledgeable and qualified coach. This is very important and definitely anyone who wants to do well in the sport should do so. It helps you to start off things in a good and efficient way and develop well over time. There is a lot of information on the internet for example, but it is easy to spend a lot of time at the start doing things that are not very good as you do not have adequate facts. Even if you train alone, you can hire a coach that will work with you online which is quite affordable and well worth the investment, I would recommend this to anyone who wants to start to explore the sport or even just get better at lifting.
- Secondly, any age is good to become a power lifter. One of the great things about Powerlifting is that you can compete at any stage of life, younger people have junior divisions and there are masters divisions for people who are older, not many sports offer that and it is something you can pick up and do well in at any stage of your life. You also will meet a lot of very interesting people from all around the world who share a similar passion as you do which is great and it can build some lifelong friendships.
- It is important to listen to your body and prevent injuries. This is closely related to having a good qualified coach who can guide you along and make sure that your training is safe and efficient. A good training plan and approach should allow you to work very hard to push yourself in a way that will get you better. Powerlifting is actually a very safe sport in terms of injury rates when compared to other sports as long as it’s done properly.
- Trust the programme and have the discipline. Powerlifting is a journey. It is not a sprint; it is in fact, a marathon. If you have a good programme that is designed specifically for you by your coach it will develop and adapt over time to keep you moving towards your goals and improving. Also it is important to enjoy the process and have fun!
In concluding our interview, Sara’s journey as a Powerlifting World Champion gave us a sense of women empowerment. Everything is possible if we put our minds to it. A life lesson for everyone!