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Co Down Supergran Karen powers her way to weightlift titles

Legal secretary on top of world just four years after taking up the sport

This is the iron-pumping grandmother who is lifting medals on the world stage.

Having taken up power lifting only four years ago, Karen Burns is already the proud holder of gold, silver and bronze gongs at national and international levels.

Just last month the 52-year-old Co Down woman came second in her class with a silver medal at the European championships in the southern French town of Albi.

"It makes me feel good and I feel very empowered with it and mentally it takes all the stresses away. It's a get-out, I love it," she told Sunday Life.

"I want women to understand it doesn't make you big and bulky and it doesn't matter what age you start." Last year Karen, from the village of Killyleagh, came home with silver in her class from the World Classic Powerlifting Championships in Sweden.

In 2018 she took bronze, silver and gold in three types of lift at the British Championships.

But four years ago the idea of lifting weights, never mind competing on the world stage, couldn't have been further from the legal secretary's mind.

"I had never picked up a weight until four years ago. I went to a gym and then, but I was like other ladies thinking I didn't want to lift weights and be big and bulky," she said.

"But when I got more into the gym and started to lift weights I liked it. I had always been a healthy person anyway, but then I just got in to lifting weights.

"I only started lifting weights about four years ago and I did my first competition after about six or eight weeks under the Northern Ireland power lifting federation and it just progressed from there."

Despite the obvious competitive nature of powerlifting Karen emphasises it's a sport in which everyone encourages one another.

"There's camaraderie, you want everybody to do well and you cheer everybody on," she explained.

Karen gives full credit to her coach, Aaron Kelly of CG Gym in Annacloy, for her success. "He has been the be-all and end-all, he is the one who has got me to this international level," she said.

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Karen

Karen

Aaron Kelly with his Affinity Fit client: Karen Burns

Aaron Kelly with his Affinity Fit client: Karen Burns

Karen

And Karen isn't letting coronavirus stand her way when it comes to keeping up to scratch, with a gym set up across several rooms of her home.

"It doesn't take that long for a movement pattern - dead lift or squat - to go amiss, so I didn't want to lose out," she explained.

"I brought it all home with me, so my living room, kitchen and hallway are now a gym."

Karen also keeps to a strict high protein and fat diet, weighing out meals, but also puts a good night's sleep high on her list of priorities.

"My coach actually made me take my TV out of my bedroom and told me not to be on social media on the phone - go to bed and go to sleep," she explained.

"It's not for everyone, but I want to win."

Belfast Telegraph