TWO women from West Lothian are set to compete in the World Masters Powerlifting Championships in Canada.

Jo Parkin, 47, from East Calder and Val Dourley, 63, from Livingston have made their way to St John’s on Newfoundland island to compete in the event. 

Powerlifting sees athletes competing in lifts through the squat, the bench-press and the deadlift. 

They get three attempts at each and the heaviest lift across each category is taken to calculate an overall total. 

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Speaking to The National, Dourley said: “It’s been just over four years now since I started. I had been diagnosed with osteoporosis and was told weight exercises could help which they have.”

This particular competition has added value for Dourley, who was meant to travel to Lithuania earlier in the year to compete in the European Masters. 

However due to the war in Ukraine, the decision was ultimately made not to go. 

The pair’s coach Darren Marr, who runs MARRvelous Fitness & Lifting Club in West Lothian, told The National: “Even though she withdrew we made her compete on the day and lift in the club what we had rehearsed and practiced. 

“Had she gone she would have won so this event is a big thing for Val.”

As a coach, Marr says he couldn’t be prouder at seeing two athletes he’s worked with compete on such a big stage.

“How pleasing is it? Well there’s a reason why I’m bald”, he says, laughing. 

The National: Jo Parkin (left), coach Darren Marr and Val Dourley (right)Jo Parkin (left), coach Darren Marr and Val Dourley (right) (Image: MPT)

He added: “It’s very pleasing. It’s a proud moment to watch two ladies who have worked their backsides off for over two years to get to this point. 

“It’s always been the goal since taking them on to get to this point. They made it very clear that they wanted to go to the world championships. 

“It’s had ups and downs but it’s rewarding to watch this and I’m glad to be going out and working as a coach with Team GB.”

For Parkin, her own powerlifting journey started when she turned 42. 

It’s a number which, according to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, represents the meaning of life and so Parkin took it upon herself to try and do 42 new things. 

“I had a friend of a friend who was running some free classes. At that point in time I actually loved running but I went along to the class and I was completely hooked”, she said. 

She added: “I never imagined this. Competing was never really on the list so I never thought I’d be a part of Team GB.” 

Powerlifting is a sport which encapsulates all ages. Sub-junior events take in under 18s whilst junior incorporates 18-23-year-olds and then senior and open categories take in athletes aged 24-40.

This is followed by Masters events which takes in competitors in increments from 40-49, 50-59 and so on. 

Both Parkin and Dourley had kind words for the coach who has helped them reach this level. 

“He’s fantastic. He’s straightforward, he doesn’t mince his words or suffer fools gladly so you need to put in the work,” says Parkin. 

Dourley adds: “It’s the juniors that’s the reason he’s bald not us. He’s amazingly patient, he kids on he’s not but he really is.”

Val is set to compete in her event on October 8. Her own personal best on a squat lift is 116kg which is double her own body weight – an unofficial world record.

Parkin, meanwhile, has a personal best squad lift of 180kg, a bench of 102.5kg and a deadlift of 207.5kg – an unofficial European record. 

She will compete in her category on October 12. 

The pair have also worked on the mental side of the sport with mindset performance coaches Louis Bruce and Maggie Sheridan-Bruce at Mental Performance Training (MPT)

It’s an organisation which helps athletes enhance their performance whilst maintaining physiological and psychological health and wellbeing. 

Sheridan-Bruce said: “These athletes commit and work so very hard and take on everything we say and put it into action. 

“It has been their dream to get to the world powerlifting masters and represent Team GB and we are delighted to have been on their mindset journey with them.”