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Vegan powerlifter Yolanda Presswood scooped an incredible nine records at the recent USPA Drug Tested Nationals in Las Vegas.
The Nationals offered a chance to continue the astonishing achievements that have seen her take titles and records after a short time in the sport.
After the day’s competition, Presswood walked away with records at the State, National, and World levels, becoming National champion in her M1 (40-44) 60kg category. Her performance also gave her an official Elite Total.
Presswood decided she would drop a weight class (from a 67.5kg weight class lifter to a 60kg weight class lifter) shortly after qualifying for the event, as a lower weight would allow her to attempt 12 records – including four world records.
Restricting calories and walking seemed to work until she suffered an intercostal strain.”Luckily with the help of my PT and friend Natasha Barnes, I was able to continue to lift despite the painful strain,” she told Great Vegan Athletes.
Further issued showed themselves, with Presswood experiencing a loss of strength. She had difficulty continuing the weight loss. The athlete suffers from PTSD and experienced what she describes as ‘the worst panic attack of my life. The kind where you think you’re dying’, while preparing for the meet.
Changing tactics to include fasting and carb-cutting, she eventually weighed in at 59.5 kg to make the weight.
When competing, starting with squat, Presswood aimed for weights under previous bests – knowing she was a lighter lifter. By the second of the three lifts, she had broken the State National and World records – extending this to 130 kg (286.6 lbs) with the third lift.
Squatting in excess of double bodyweight is an achievement by any standards, and to do so just a few years after her first competition is remarkable.
Aware she needed to bench press 70kg for both State and National records, Yolanda came close with a 67.5 kg bench, which is a personal best at 60 kg.
Deadlifts were an area where she felt confident, and for her third attempt, set the bar at 155 kg (341 lb). She lifted this, which gave her another State, National, and World record. Incredibly, she felt that was not everything.
Pressword also competed in the open category (against lifters with no age restrictions). Her lifts tied for 8th 9th and 10th of 27 lifters (placing 10th officially as she was heavier).
“I had more in me but I was just ready for the whole experience to be over,” she said. “Had I known I was 1kg away from placing 8th [in the open category] I would have chipped it… maybe.”
The vegan powerlifter now holds 11 records across two weight categories.
“The magnitude of this accomplishment for me is huge,” she said. “I set out with this as my goal, and it’s exactly what I did.”
Yolanda also felt she had learned from the weight loss process.
“I would not have considered cutting weight if not for a chance at four world records. I will never do this again. I don’t recommend it to new or newer lifters either. Just lift at whatever weight you’re at!”
A decade of veganism
Presswood, who has been vegan for almost 10 years, made the change after becoming aware of the acidic nature of animal products then researching more.
“I decided I’d look deeper and picked up Alicia Silverstone’s book The Kind Diet. It was there that my eyes were opened to the atrocities animals suffer every day,” she previously told GVA.
“I couldn’t look away. As you know, as vegans, we start with the obvious and keep learning as we go along our lives. My household is vegan for the animals, including our two teenage children aged 14 and 18 [now 16 and 20]. Vegan for life. Strong hearts. Strong minds. Strong body.”