Abbey Watson squats 60 kg, leading up to her 65 kg World Record-setting lift
Credit: Photo by Steve Watson/copyright Abigail Watson 2012
Having recently returned from the Powerlifting Federation national competition in Oklahoma City, Abbey Watson of Colorado is a 13 year old world record holder for powerlifting. In fact she holds eight world records with the most recent for squats in her weight class lifting 143.3 pounds. On top of that, Abbey is already the holder of 28 world, national, and state records. Not bad for a 105 pound girl in middle school. It comes as no surprise that her next goal is the Olympics.
What is surprising is Abbey’s casual start at lifting. Having been coaxed by her father, Steve Watson, to visit Defy!, a CrossFit and strength-coaching gym with him, she immediately latched on to lifting weights. "I came just to watch. I was wearing my school clothes and they asked me if I wanted to do it too. So, I did one of the workouts and I loved it!" says Abbey. In just three years Abbey has managed to accomplish so much and sees no stopping anytime soon, much to the surprise of her father who quips that he was just hoping to inspire his young daughter to adopt some positive workout habits, not a competitive career!
However, while Abbey is being marked as the girl to send out a positive message of the physical and emotional benefits of weight lifting to other girls, there is also concerns and criticisms that have arisen. The main question I think we all have is should a young girl of 13 be weight lifting? And what type of damage might this do to her growing body? The Mayo clinic states that while light strength training is beneficial for growing bodies, lifting heavy weights may put too much strain on muscles, tendons and cartilage that have yet to turn to bone. A bodily concern that may arise being that Abbey can deadlift 176 pounds, nearly double her body weight. However Abbey’s coach, Jonathan Sabar, maintains that they are training with the proper techniques and observing a healthy diet all of which should make the heaving weight lifting perfectly safe.
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