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By Sara Vero

On 4th April I competed in the IPO Nationals. IPO are affiliated with IPL/WPU. I had never lifted with them before, so it was a bit of a learning experience, but it was an excellent meet.

I had a few commitments the days prior, and so I couldn't make it down to Limerick for weigh-ins the night before. I figured I'd just get up at 4:30 and drive down for morning weigh-ins. This wasn’t a problem at all as I had previous experience with same-day weigh-ins, and making weight was not in doubt, so no big cuts needed. I took it easy the week before; lots of foam rolling and stretching and hit the hay nice and early on Friday night.

2 a.m. Wide. Awake. My mind going a mile a minute.
This wasn’t ideal but I didn't panic, just kicked back and listened to podcasts, relaxed and got driving at the planned time.
I weighed in at 51.05 kg, for the <52 kg category. Happy days. I had hoped to get some eggs and stuff but the local breakfast options were not great (the thoughts of a greasy fry up held little appeal). Instead I had a quest bar, coffee, chocolate rice cakes and then had a sleep for an hour or so. That did me the world of good.


Squat warmups went great. I've been focusing on lots of foam rolling and stretching, which I'm normally very lazy about in truth, and I felt pretty good. I had never lifted out of a monolift before, so that took some getting used to. I'll be better prepared for it next time. It took me a while to get comfortable with simply setting my feet and not stepping back. I train alone (there are no other powerlifters in my gym), but the kindness of the powerlifting community is outstanding; a group of lovely girls and guy from the Derry Powerlifting Club spotted me and treated me as one of their team-mates for the whole day (and hit some majorly impressive lifts themselves!). That is one of the great things I have found about powerlifting – you might be alone on the platform, but never in the warm-up room.

I took 70 kg for my opener - white lights. One of the spotters said to me that my depth was way below parallel; I'm a poor judge of it myself so always train ATG. I realize in a meet that might just burn energy and make it tougher to get out of the hole, so I'm going to work on learning where parallel really is. Once I got back to the warm-up room a girl there said 'Oh no, you forgot your knee wraps'. Nope, I have never used knee wraps, simply because no one in my gym wears them (they're not powerlifters so why would they!). Everyone else used them though and I can see the benefit. Another takeaway from the meet and it was barely 11 am! Got 75 kg for my 2nd attempt, and missed 80 on my 3rd. Squat is my weakest lift and nothing spectacular here, but I'd equaled my training best for the first time in a meet, so I'm happy enough (for now).
There was a very long break (c. 4 hours) until bench, because some poor guy ripped his quads badly and had to be taken away in an ambulance. I didn't see the accident, but hopefully he'll make a recovery.

I benched 55 and 60 kg, and then missed 65 for my 3rd attempt; I simply ran out of gas. I actually think a lot of it was due to getting my food wrong, as I felt nice and solid on the bench, just lacked energy. This is such an easy mistake to make; I should have eaten more in the interval. I had the best bench amongst the women by a good margin so that was pretty cool as I had plenty of ground to make up after squats.


We didn't start deadlifting until about 6 that evening, and tiredness was starting to set in. Pulled 120 kg for my opener. No problem, but it moved a little slower than I had hoped. Consequently, I decided to use some ammonia for my next attempt (125 kg). The problem was, when I opened my jar, it had lost a lot of potency (I only use it very rarely and never thought to check it - my own fault entirely). One of the guys in the warm-up room had a jar of the same brand and offered me some. Cue the ammonia apocalypse! It was a fresh jar and nearly blew my head off! My eyes and nose were streaming and I had to run out onto the platform immediately. The audience looked at me like I had lost my mind. I felt like getting sick so all I did was firmly shut my mouth and just kept pulling - white lights! I had to go outside and retch after. I saw a guy in the lightweight men's make the exact same mistake later, and we had a good laugh about it in the warm-up room. Pulled 130 kg to mid-shin and tried to grind it out but I was just done for the day.

My bench and deadlift, though they aren't big numbers by any means, are Irish records, so I'm pretty chuffed with that. I came 3rd in the ladies lightweight flight (under 67 kg). It was super close between me and 2nd place - my squat was the failing point so I'll really work on it over the next few months. I had a real blast though; one of my favorite ever meets. I also learned a ton, and have lots to work on (I made a very long list afterwards).

I really appreciate all the support from my family and friends, from the excellent meet staff, from all the competitors on the day and especially from EliteFTS, who provide so much help, encouragement and information.

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IPO National Championships - Women's Results

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