Meet the UK’s oldest power-lifting couple who between them can deadlift more than twice their combined body weights. Super-strong Catherine Wass, 66, and husband Stuart Hamilton, 59, have both smashed records for their age and weight groups after ‘coming out of retirement.’ Catherine set the power-lifting world record for bench press in her age and weight category earlier this month (13/05). She benched 82.5kg, beating the previous record by 7.5kg, at the BPU British Single Lift Championships. And, on the same day, Catherine beat the British deadlift record by 5kg – registering a weight of 125kg. Her husband Stuart Hamilton, 59, is also a force to be reckoned with, and holds the European record for bench press. He benched 173kg in the same competition last year, beating the previous record by 0.5kg. Their success is all the more amazing because they’ve beat the records after ‘coming out of retirement’ and returning to the gym during the pandemic lockdowns. Stuart from Colchester, Essex, said: “We think we’re the oldest powerlifting couple in the UK which is quite something. “We have four grandkids between the ages of six-months and eighteen, and the two eldest love what we do. They’re really impressed by it all. “I think we’re a living example that age is just a number, and you’re as fit as your activity levels and your outlook on life.” Stuart met Catherine in 1994 while he was bodybuilding. Catherine was teaching aerobics in the gym Stuart owned, and the couple bonded over their passion for health and fitness. She started powerlifting in 1999, and Stuart, who won bodybuilding’s Mr Britain in 1993, originally acted solely as her coach. He later entered his first bench press competition in 2006. Catherine was placing high in national competitions, and it wasn’t long before the British Powerlifting woman’s team came knocking. Her career peaked when she won the Powerlifting World Championships in Argentina 2002 – but a knee injury in 2013 forced her into retirement. Catherine, a mum of two, said: “When I first met Stuart, he was more into body building, so I started to train with him. “He was impressed by my natural strength, and after scoping out the competition at the British Championships, I decided to get involved at local level. “Three years later I was a world champion which felt really surreal. As a woman its very empowering to feel strong. “Everything was still going well a decade later, until I got a niggly injury to my patella tendon in my right knee. “I was forced to rest in order to recover, but afterwards I became more in to teaching fitness instructing. “I was so busy with that that I never really went back to competing in powerlifting.” In March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic forced the UK into lockdown, and people were limited to an hour of exercise a day. Thankfully for Stuart and Catherine, they now co-owned Hamilton’s Fitness Centre in Colchester, and still had access to their gym. They trained everyday throughout the first lockdown, building back up their strength, motivating each other and setting new personal bests. When restrictions were lifted they continued to put in the work to get back to their best. And, it wasn’t long before they’d both qualified for the BPU British Single Lift Championships. In this year’s championships, Stuart bench pressed 170 kg and deadlifted 225kg in the under 60’s age category and the under 90kg weight category. He performed well, but sadly fell just short of breaking his own European record on the bench-press he’d set the previous year. But Catherine bench pressed 82.5kg and deadlifted 125kg in the under 70’s age category and the under 75kg weight category. In doing so, she broke the world record for bench press and a British record for deadlift in her age and weight category. Stuart said: “We both have a very good, clean sports diet which keeps us strong and healthy. “It consists of lots of rice, veg and protein. I’ve never eaten a McDonald’s in my life. “Both of our daughters have carried on the family tradition and competed in power lifting. Our eldest Candice was even a national champion herself. “She is going to Ireland this weekend to compete in the European Powerlifting Championships. “Our two eldest grandkids sometimes come to the gym and train with us which is really nice. I’m sure the two younger ones will do too when they’re older enough. “There’s lots of older people who train in our gym who we like to think we help motivate. It’s a great feeling.”
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