Weight lifting champion
When she was growing up in Tyrone, Pa., in the 1960s, JoAnn Clough’s athletic career consisted of doing a few splits and turning a few cartwheels as a high school cheerleader. Today, she’s the same height (5 feet 1 inch ) and the same weight (105), but as the world record holder for her age in the dead lift and the bench press, she’s got a few more muscles than she did back in high school.
“She’s a little powerhouse,” said Louie Morrison, her trainer. “She lifts clean, she’s set plenty of records.”
Clough, 65, is among the best power lifters in the nation for her 60-69 age group. In Reno, Nev., last summer, she bench pressed 137 pounds at the 114-pound weight class, setting a world record for her age. She dead-lifted 320.6 pounds in the 114-pound weight class, which is also a world record for her age group. She went from 308 pounds to 320 pounds on her fourth and final attempt.
“It was hard and heavy, but I did it,” she said. “I love the dead lift. It’s my thing.”
Clough has been power lifting for 10 years now. She started as part of a fitness routine with three other women when she lived in Texas. A former nurse, Clough met her husband, who is now a cardiologist at Eastern Maine Medical Center, in the operating room. They’ve been married 32 years.
After she and her husband moved to Maine, Clough’s fitness trainer encouraged her to compete on the gym’s team – the first female. She likes the camaraderie of the meets, where participants cheer each other on and help load plates for each other.
“Men are sometimes cocky among themselves, but they do respect the women who lift,” she says.
Since last summer, Clough has added running to her fitness regimen. As a result, she’s dropped down to the 105-weight class and continues to set power-lifting records. At a national meet in Portland in June, she set Maine state records in both the open and over-40 division with a bench press of 126.7 pounds and a dead lift of 303 pounds.
Clough says her trainer sees her lifting for another five years. The sport can be tough on the body, but so far she has had no injuries. She also has started competing in road races in her age group, coming in third recently in a 5K in Pennsylvania.
“I’m cross-training now, three days a week for a general fitness level,” says Clough.
No matter how much longer she competes in power lifting, Clough has come a long way from the days of pom poms and cartwheels.