Five years ago Eleanor Mallow and Lynn Paskiewicz never imagined becoming Olympic-style weightlifters, however, on Thursday the two Siloam Springs women will be competing in the National Masters Weightlifting Championship in Buffalo, N.Y.
At the national championship, they will have the opportunity to qualify for the world championship in Barcelona, Spain.
Mallow, 56, and Paskiewicz, 61, got involved with CrossFit and weightlifting four and five years ago, respectively. They began concentrating on weightlifting about a year ago.
Olympic-style weightlifting is a sport with a history that stretches back to ancient Egyptian and Greek societies, according to www.olympic.org. Today, weightlifters compete in two events, the "snatch" and the "clean and jerk."
During the snatch, weightlifters pull the weight from the ground and throw it over their head in one powerful motion, then catch it in a squatting position, and rise to a standing position with the weight still over their head. During the clean and jerk, weightlifters pull the weight to their chest, then push it above their heads.
Because the snatch is technically more difficult, weightlifters typically lift a lower weight, Mallow explained. In order to qualify for the world championship events, Mallow will need to lift a total of 76 kilos (167.5 pounds) between the two events and Paskiewicz will need to lift 66 kilos (145.5), according to their coach Micheal Spruell, owner of CrossFit Siloam Springs.
The masters championship is for athletes age 35 and up and weights are varied based on age and weight class. Mallow is competing in the 55-59 age category and Paskiewicz is competing in the 60-65 age category.
Mallow and Paskiewicz qualified for the national championship at their first weightlifting competition, held in Lowell in November. Their husbands bought them plane tickets to the national competition for Christmas and they have been training in earnest since early January.
The two women have come a long way since they started working out at Crossfit Siloam Springs. Paskiewicz started on her Crossfit journey in January of 2013 and Mallow began in February of 2014. At first, the two women could barely jump onto a three-inch weight, let alone do a box jump, and they had to have assistance from boxes on either side to do a lunge.
"I don't know what my original motivating factor was, but once I got here and started I was hooked," said Paskiewicz, who works as a librarian at Southside Elementary School.
Paskiewicz explained that she has seven adopted special needs children at home, including one who is 85 pounds and has to be lifted out of a wheelchair. She also has five grandchildren.
"That doesn't get any easier unless you get stronger," she said.
"Lynn, when she started, she was just kind of weak and she was mobile from yoga, but she didn't have any strength and agility," Spruell said. "One of the cool things is as she has gotten stronger and stronger, her family laughs because they say she is actually aging backward."
Paskiewicz' aches and pains began to go away and she began to have more stamina to get through her day.
Mallow, who works as a systems analyst in John Brown University's information technology department, said that she was concerned about caring for her grandchildren, as well as for her husband and mother, who both have health problems. She realized that if she didn't care for herself, she wouldn't be able to care for them, so she decided to try CrossFit.
"At 52, getting out of a chair for me was difficult and I would walk hunched over until my old bones would loosen up enough that I could stand up," she said. "Now I can stand up, it doesn't bother me, I can crawl around on the floor, I can do pretty much anything I want to do without any problems so it's really changed my physical capabilities.
"Eleanor, she came in and she has always been an athlete but she lost that drive a bit and became really heavy," Spruell said. "For her, having the CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting has allowed her to maintain that drive she had as a young athlete."
CrossFit helped Mallow lose more than 80 pounds and run her first half-marathon. Now her three teenage granddaughters, who do CrossFit with her, have a hard time keeping up with her when they go on bicycle rides or go to the High Rise Extreme Airsports trampoline park in Rogers.
"We have a lot of competitions," said her granddaughter Cheyenne Buck, a high school junior. "When we did our totals last time she beat me by one pound. She gets out there and she helps us with yard work, she'll go and jump on the trampoline with us, it's really good that she can do that and she's healthier and she loves it."
Maggie Buck, a high school freshman, said it is empowering to watch her grandmother's achievements.
Both women have been getting up in the early hours of the morning for years to do CrossFit training at 5 a.m. Monday through Friday. Mallow adds training sessions during her lunch period at work and after work, as well as on Saturday.
They became interested in Olympic weightlifting last year after a seminar by Glen Pendlay, a highly regarded coach for USA weightlifting teams.
When Paskiewicz started, the heaviest weight she could lift was 35 pounds, which seemed amazing at the time. Now her personal record is 87 pounds for the snatch and 120 pounds for the clean and jerk. Mallow's personal record is 92 pounds for the snatch and 117 pounds for the clean and jerk. Combined, their personal best lifts would easily qualify both women for their age categories in the world championship.
"It's just fun to go back and see how far you can come," Paskiewicz said.
"Your body, no matter what age, is capable of so much more than we think, what our minds tell us we can do," Mallow said. "CrossFit and weightlifting and powerlifting have shown me that."
Paskiewicz said she sees the technical weightlifting moves as a dance step.
"There is a rhythm to it and when you get that magical moment where everything comes together and locks into place, its that unicorn," she said.
She explained that she is participating in the national competition for fun and for life experience.
Spruell will be accompanying his two students to the competition this week and said he is very proud of them. It has taken a lot of consistent hard work for Mallow and Paskiewicz to qualify for the national championship, Spruell said.
"It's awesome," he said. "My favorite thing is when my students do something they think is impossible."
General News on 04/04/2018
Print Headline: Weightlifting wonders