Shirlee Petrat loves Olympic-style lifting.
That word might not be the right one to describe her feeling for the sport, however.
“It’s very addicting,” said Petrat, who started lifting two years ago at age 52. “For me I do my homework every night. I do all my notes. I do my studying of my lifts. I watch all my videos up to 25 times. It’s fun. It’s challenging. Lifting is one of the sports that makes you face your failures everyday.”
Petrat, 54, a certified personal trainer in pilates and weight training, got into Olympic lifting through cross fit. She works out five days a week under the experienced guidance of former Olympian Guy Greavette (South Korea Games in 1988), whose most recent accomplishment is winning gold in the World Masters Games and setting a record in the snatch of 116 kilograms at 85 kg in 2005.
“He has a really good eye,” said Petrat, who when not training out of Greavette’s Viking Weightlifting Club in Winfield, trains at a private facility in Penticton. “If I’m struggling with something, he will know how to deload my weights the next day, rather than loading me heavier. He’s such a professional. He’s very good at what he does.”
Currently she is training at a 50 kilo weight, two over her competition weight. It allows her to eat more and have more energy. Greavette sends Petrat a program that changes daily based on previous days performance.
Last year Petrat competed in her first event, the Ogopogo Lifting Competition, an open with no age categories. She was placed in the 53 kilo weight class since she narrowly missed the 48 kilo class by one kilo. The five-foot-one lifter ended up doing an 82 kg lift and was up against eight lifters in their mid 20s. Those results earned her qualifications to the Pan Am Masters and World Masters, which she did not attend.
“Overall, I did good. It was really odd to be lifting against kids who were stronger than me,” she laughed.
Petrat is in the rare position of not having competition because of her age and weight. She said it is unique to have an older master trainer starting at her age.
“You need mobility, you need speed, and you have to be in shape,” said Petrat, who got her DNA tested to learn what type of fast twitch muscle fibre she possessed.
Petrat she has always been drawn to quick actions.
Being in her position opens up doors into the record books. In the 55-59 age group for 48 kilo women, there is no B.C. record. The Canadian combined snatch (28 kilos) and clean and jerk (38 kilos) record is 65 kilos. The Pan Am record is 79 and the world record is 87. The World Master Games record is 62. Petrat is a member of the B.C. Weightlifting Association, which is a member of the Canadian Weightlifting Federation. That federation is also a member of the International Weightlifting Federation. She is also a member of the Canadian Masters.
Her second event is the Ogopogo again, on Aug.13 in Lake Country and she will be better prepared because of the coaching change.
“I lift better now than I did last year,” she said. “My technique has changed with my new coach. I can literally lift about 25 per cent heavier now. Just with pure technique.”
As long as she totals in her lifts, she will qualify for the World Masters Games in New Zealand next year. All she needs to do is make one snatch and clean and jerk.
She feels scared about the chance to compete in the World Masters Games.
“I’m by myself which takes some of the stress off,” she said. “At the same time, it’s very stressful because I’m just there. There is no competition.
“I don’t know what my progression should be because there is nothing to compare it to,” she continued. “I don’t know if I’m slow in learning the snatch at my age or am I quick at learning it. I’m the only one learning it.”
Petrat said it takes a good year to prepare for a competition. Next year she has plans to compete three times — the Canadians, the B.C. Masters and the World Master Games. She’s excited about the prospect of winning gold and setting a record.