Sarah Condon: The world of weightlifting

Story by Jeff Gard/ Total Sports Media

Belleville’s Sarah Condon has qualified for the 2022 World Masters Weightlifting Championships.

Condon met the qualifying standard while competing this past June in the Canadian Masters Weightlifting Championship, which was a virtual event this year. She considered it a special and unique event that showcased the competitors overcoming obstacles from the past year, which required a lot of training from home.

Qualifying for the World event is based on age division, weight class and meeting or exceeding the qualifying standard in terms of kilograms lifted.

Condon, who is 37 and competes in the 35-39 age division and 59 kg weight class, placed second in her group and exceeded the qualifying standard at the Canadian championships by lifting 54 kg (119 pounds) for snatch and 65 kg (143 pounds) for clean and jerk for a total of 119 kg.

“It was one of those things for myself, it’s always been on the list of things you would like to achieve and when I was doing my lifts everything was really coming together,” Condon said.

The 2022 World Masters championship will be held next year in December in Orlando, Florida.

“I think everybody’s keeping their fingers crossed that things are moving in the right direction, so lots of time between now and then to continue to train, continue to keep getting better and most of all having fun,” Condon said.

Condon loves to keep pushing herself and is proud of qualifying for the World championships.

“As we get a little bit older it certainly becomes, I don’t want to say more challenging, but you’ve got work and everything else,” she remarked. “It’s one of those things that’s pretty exciting to do amongst everything else. For myself, just to be able to qualify is a huge accomplishment and something that I’m pretty excited about.”

Condon trains at Victory Barbell Club, located just over the Norris Whitney Bridge heading from Belleville to Prince Edward County. 

“It’s a small gym, small team, but I personally really like that,” she said. “It really gives us a closeness, kind of like a little family there.” 

Condon had just turned 31 when she started training. Her husband William was already entering competitions, which she regularly attended. Victory Barbell coach Gary Lewis approached her to talk about lifting. 

It made sense to give it a try. After all, she was attending the competitions to support her husband anyway and the timing seemed right.

“I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a super strong person. I’ve always been very active and I played soccer for 20 years, but getting into (weightlifting) I had to start from the ground up,” Condon  said. “That’s part of the sport that I really enjoy. You kind of see yourself evolve. When I first started, I could barely lift the 10 kilo bar which is about 20 pounds. 

“The one thing I always encourage people about is to have good coaching. We’ve been really fortunate to have such a great coach in Gary that guided us along the way with good technique and good form and dedication in making us the best lifter. I think the biggest thing with this sport is patience. It’s not something that happens overnight, but there is really no feeling in what you can accomplish or what you can lift as you put in the time and dedication to the process.”

Soccer was the favourite sport of Condon while growing up in Napanee. She played in high school and for a year at Trent University in Peterborough. 

In 2007 she got back into the sport by playing in women’s leagues.

“First it was just a way to be social, be active, but I feel like soccer has always been something that I excelled at and I think that I’ve been able to bring over some of that hard work and dedication that I put into that sport over into weightlifting,” Condon said.

Condon has competed in the Canadian Masters Weightlifting Championships a few times now, with the first being in 2016, the year after she began training. In 2018 she competed at the Pan-American Masters Championships in Gaspé, Quebec and won a gold medal.

Winning is great, Condon said, but she thrives on continued progression from training and the support from the weightlifting community. 

“For so many of us, it’s an opportunity to compete, but also to stay healthy and just keep your body moving. Strength building at any age is so important to overall health,” Condon said, noting she has witnessed weightlifters over 80 still competing.

“It’s amazing that this sport isn’t just for a certain age bracket, it’s for all ages. It comes with a really great community of people that are really supportive to one another and want each other to do well.”