The accidental teen powerlifting champ eyeing off a world record
A teenage girl who inadvertently broke an Australian record after starting to lift weights to improve her fitness now has her sights set on a world record.
Maddy Keast, 17, who grew up in the small mining town of Kambalda, 600 kilometres east of Perth, started lifting weights when she was 13.
But it was not until she discovered she had accidentally broken an Australian powerlifting record a year later that Keast decided powerlifting was the right sport for her.
"I was only 14 at the time and I didn't know about any of the Australian or world records that were held [in powerlifting]," she said.
"The MC on the day of the comp [approached me] and told me I'd unofficially broken Australian records.
"It was a bit overwhelming and exciting. I pretty much had a smile on my face for the rest of the day."
Four years after she started powerlifting, Keast now has a professional coach from Perth who she Skypes with, and she is eyeing off a world record at the Teen, Junior and Master Raw Powerlifting competition in Perth in October.
"It's not out of the realms of possibility," she said.
The current world record in Keast's 75 kilogram weight category would require her to lift a combined weight of 495kg in the deadlift, squat and bench press.
Her coach said she had a good shot.
Keast's mum, Tammee Keast, said she had known her daughter was stronger than most while she was growing up.
"She always had a very muscular build. She used to enjoy swimming. She was quite good at swimming up until a tipping point where she got a little too muscular," Ms Keast said.
"When she first began [powerlifting], I thought it was going to be a teenage whim of fitness that would result in an awful lot of soreness and her giving up immediately.
"Things kind of went from there. She went off to her first novice comp and astounded everyone who was in the sport. They all went 'Oh my God, she's only 14'."
More women taking up powerlifting
Powerlifting is different to the Olympic sport of weightlifting. It involves three core components: the squat, the bench press and the deadlift.
Competitors are required to perform several attempts of each before they are scored and ultimately ranked to determine the winner.
Also unlike weightlifting, there are many competing powerlifting federations in Australia, all of which host different competitions and keep their own records.
But Keast is still a rare case given her astounding early success.
At the moment, her personal best for the deadlift component is 142.5kg.
She has long since met and exceeded her initial powerlifting goal as a 13-year-old to improve her personal fitness.
"It makes everyday activities a lot easier. Just being able to move around and climb on things and hold my own body weight," Keast said.
When she finishes school next year, Keast hopes to start a career as a personal trainer and inspire others to powerlift, particularly other women.
"Over the four years that I've been lifting, there have been a lot more women lifting at the competitions," she said.
"I don't think there are quite as many women as men at the competitions, but there are definitely more than there used to be.
"I'd like to try and get more women involved. It's a good sport, it's good for mental and physical growth and just learning things."
'I'm very, very proud of her'
The sport of powerlifting is still growing, and Maddy's two younger siblings, 10-year-old twins Michelle and William, are taking note of their trailblazing sister.
"She's really inspiring for her lifting," Michelle said. "She does well in comps and things like that."
"Yes [she's inspiring], not necessarily for lifting, but she's definitely inspiring for sport," William said.
Ms Keast is particularly proud, not just for her daughter's powerlifting achievements, but also for the personal growth she has witnessed over the past four years.
"I'm very, very proud of her. She gets a pat on the back when we go to the local shopping centre," she said.
"Everyone goes 'Oh yes, we saw your results, you've done brilliantly'.
"She's setting an example for her siblings, not just in sport and health but in commitment. She started something and she's seeing it through.
"They get to see her have bad days and good days and what actually committing can do, rather than throwing things away."