Queen Karen Europe’s best

Queen Karen Europe’s best

15 April 2020

A KILLYLEAGH grandmother is a European powerlifting champion at the age of 52.

Karen Burns won the European title in France in March and set a new world record in the process.

Powerlifting involves three disciplines — squat, bench press and deadlift — and Karen capped a brilliant performance with a world record breaking lift of 163 kilos in the deadlift.

It’s a fantastic achievement for Karen, who only took up powerlifting four years ago.

The legal secretary, who has two daughters and four grandchildren, started gym classes at the age of 48, but within a few months made the switch to powerlifting.

Coached by Aaron Kelly, from Affinity Fit at the CG Fitness gym in Annacloy, she trained four times a week and was soon competing and winning medals at a national, international and world levels.

She was the British champion two years running in 2018 and 2019. She was selected for Team GBR and last year finished second in the IPF world championships in Sweden.

Karen says the journey to her European title and new world record began two years ago.

“Many people just see the training and programme side of things, but there is a lot more under the surface,” she explained.

“Due to starting the sport later in life and competing against lifters with 10-plus years under their belts I had to go to every extreme to give my progression every possible advantage.

“All my food was tracked and measured. My diet is nutrient dense but I can still enjoy what I eat.

“Water intake was tracked, daily activity was tracked, recovery was tracked, which even included a curfew — my coach would literally check my fit bit data to see if I had gone to bed on time.

“I had to darken my room completely and remove the TV to improve sleep quality. Supplements, stretching, and home work-outs to improve mobility and prevent injury were all pieces of the puzzle.”

Owing to the coronavirus lockdown, Karen currently can’t get to the gym in Annacloy, but that’s not stopping her training regime.

She has set up a gym at her home in Killyleagh and is continuing her preparations for this year’s world championships — they were due to take place in Sun City, South Africa, at the end of the month, but have been postponed. She hopes they will now take place some time later in the year. 

She said: “I love this sport and my goals going forward are to continue to challenge myself and grow as a lifter, but also to motivate and inspire others to enjoy heavy lifting at any level, even if they don’t want to compete. 

“I want to help break the stigma that heavy lifting makes you big and bulky and show others that at 52 I’m the fittest and strongest I’ve been in my entire life, both physically and mentally.”