Last January, Danielle Hayes took up powerlifting. Eight months on and she is a world champion. After many years spent in the gym, the 26-year-old Dublin schoolteacher wasn’t entirely new to lifting weights, but her stratospheric rise to the top is something of a shock.
“The World Championships was only my second competition. I had won the 70-80kg title at the National Championships in March, but then tore a hamstring.” Hayes missed out on the European Championships, and then couldn’t return to full training until September. Despite plenty of jitters on the day, she performed close to her best at the World Championships, held in Glasgow last weekend.
In powerlifting, competitors compete in three disciplines – dead lift, squat and bench press. The combined weight of the three lifts gives the overall results. Hayes deadlifted 152.5kg, squatted 117.5kg and benched 50kg.
“The dead lift and the squat are my favourites and were so easy, but I missed 65kg in the bench because I raised my bum off the seat. That was disappointing, since I have benched 70kg in practise.” She had still done enough for her first world title.
Helping her every inch of the way is Darragh Hayes, a personal trainer and former Mr Universe, who just happens to be her older brother. With her confidence now sky high, Hayes has her eyes on the Irish deadlift record of 158km and on more Irish titles in the spring before the next round of international competitions. “While I love competition, I am competing against myself more than anything. I love that feeling of training hard and getting better all the time.”
She’s also looking out for the stars of the future and pupils at the Presentation Warrenmount where she teaches can look forward to a very special boot camp, supervised by a world champion, over the next few months.
* As well as Danielle Hayes, there were a number of other impressive performances from a powerful Irish team of 41 men and 13 women who competed at the Powerlifting World Championships in Glasgow. Dublin-based Arlette Bomahou, originally from France, won the 90kg weight class, when she squated 102.5kg,”benched” 62.5kg and deadlifted 160kg. Emer O’Driscoll from Co Meath took silver in the 58.5kg class, as did her training partner Siobhan Hynes in the 55.5kg category (the three pictured above right). Linh Nguyen not only won the -55.5kg category, but set a world record of 115kg for the squat.
In the younger age groups, both Emma Scott and Abigail Cronin took titles. Of the men, Dan O’Duffy won the 90kg category and deadlifted a world record 220kg, while James Hickey was second 125kg, with a superb 260kg deadlift. Winning the junior 110kg class was Vincent O’Donovan.