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Melanie Lester, 70, from Shimpling, wins gold at European Powerlifting Championships





A 70-year-old woman has become a record holder after winning gold at the Powerlifting Championships 2024 – and hopes to inspire others give the sport a try.

Melanie Lester, of Shimpling, travelled to Spain to represent Team GB in the European Women’s Masters Classic Powerlifting Championships, where she achieved a gold medal and set a new European record by deadlifting 125kg.

The Masters competition is for older athletes and Melanie triumphed in the 70 and over category in the under 69kg weight class, which she trains for at BT Fitness Coaching, in Sudbury.

Melanie Lester, 70 from Shimpling, hopes others will give powerlifting a try. Picture: White Lights Media
Melanie Lester, 70 from Shimpling, hopes others will give powerlifting a try. Picture: White Lights Media

She said: “It’s totally unexpected, it’s incredible.

“My family and friends think I’m a bit nuts – but they’re really pleased for me and very supportive.

“I would really love for other people to get involved in powerlifting because it is so good for you, physically and mentally.”

The 70-year-old holds the European record for her age and weight class by deadlifting 125kg. Picture: White Lights Media
The 70-year-old holds the European record for her age and weight class by deadlifting 125kg. Picture: White Lights Media

Melanie also holds the European record for the highest combined weight from three individual lifts, which stands at 235kg.

She has travelled the world to compete, including last year’s world championships in Mongolia, where she won a silver medal.

Before retiring, Melanie volunteered as part of the VSO charity and taught in Tanzania and Uganda.

The powerlifter said she was quite unfit around eight years ago so she started attending a fitness class, which then lead to lifting weights with her trainer Ben Tracey.

Melanie Lester with her trainer Ben Tracey. Picture: White Lights Media
Melanie Lester with her trainer Ben Tracey. Picture: White Lights Media

Ben said: “She is an absolute legend and a huge inspiration to others.

“She is proof that no matter what you do or what your age is, you should be doing some exercise as the results can be absolutely amazing.

“We’re so incredibly proud of Mel. The whole reason why I got involved with training was to help people achieve their goals and seeing her do so well is the ultimate job satisfaction.”

Melanie taking her place on the podium after winning gold at the European Women’s Masters Classic Powerlifting Championships in Spain. Picture: Submitted
Melanie taking her place on the podium after winning gold at the European Women’s Masters Classic Powerlifting Championships in Spain. Picture: Submitted

After achieving gold and setting new weightlifting records, Melanie has no plans on slowing down and is now preparing to compete in the British Nationals in June.

This competition will be in Belfast, where she is hoping to perform well again in order to qualify for the next world championships in South Africa.

Melanie added: “As you get older, injuries tend to hurt twice as much and it can take twice as long to recover.

“It’s really important to do the lifts properly with the right technique.

“When I first started, I was surprised with how much I could lift – and how good it made me feel.

“It’s all about consistent training and pushing yourself to new limits.”