15-year old Byrne creates World powerlifting history

by Dave Donnelly
Megan Byrne rightly smiles as she shows off her Gold medal, following success at the World Drug-Free Powerlifting Championships to become the youngest ever World title winner at just 15 years of age.

WOODBROOK GLEN native Megan Byrne made history last month when she became the youngest-ever female athlete to win a world title in powerlifting at the age of just 15.

The transition year student came first in the T1 (14-15-year-old) category at the World Drug-Free Powerlifting Championships in Halle, Germany in late October.

The full powerlift category in which Megan competes consists of three separate disciplines: squat, benchpress and deadlift.

Byrne was part of a 17-strong Irish team that travelled to the championships and what makes her story all the more remarkable, is that she only started out weightlifting a year ago.

She took up the sport as a means of keeping feet but, under the tutelage of her father and coach Reg, has flourished in her short time competing.

She was crowned national full power champion in Belfast earlier this year, which earned her a spot on the Irish team that competed at world level.

“She came up to the gym and I was a coach, and dad, and I put her on a programme to see how she’d fare,” Reg tells Dublin Gazette.

“It was a novice enough programme. She literally flew and really, really did well. I only put her on one thing at first, a discipline called deadlift, and she excelled and ended up winning a national title.

“After that, she went to full powerlift, while is kind of unusual for a young kid because normally you’d get them doing individual disciplines and try to bring that to fruition.

“She went onto full power and I put her on a novice programme, then an intermediate one and then a high-end programme. Throughout the year, she excelled at every single one of them.

“She then became the national weightlifting champion at full power. She would have been one of the youngest female athletes ever on an Irish weightlifting team.”

Megan recently released a book entitled Healthy Eating Without Training, and she’s also a talented singer with a number of performances available online.

Reg runs the Angels Boxing Club at St Benildus College in Stillorgan, where the European Drug Free Championships will take place next April.

He’s also the vice-president of the Irish Drug-Free Powerlifting Association, which is affiliated with the World Anti-Doping Association, WADA.

Megan has already qualified for the European Championships, and the next worlds, by virtue of her performance in Germany, and will continue to defend her national title in 2020.

The hope is that drug-free powerlifting will become an Olympic event in the not-too-distant future, however at the moment there exists no kind of funding to help athletes compete.

“It is definitely in contention to be an Olympic sport. In three or four years time, if it becomes an Olympic sport, hell yeah she’ll be in contention to represent her country.

“She eats, sleeps and drinks her powerlifting and her singing. Any young kid starting out in sport, whether it be football or rugby, they always strive to be at the top.”

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