Powerlifting granny a world record holder at 81

EAST ALTON, Ill. – Shirley Webb first joined a gym three years ago when she was 78.

“When I first joined I could not climb steps unless I held on with both hands and pulled myself up,” Webb told KTVI.

Now 81, Webb has traveled all over, taking down dumbbells, taking home 17 medals - and now powerlifting her way to a world record.

“I’m a world champion right now,” Webb said. “That’s a nice title to have. A silver in bench press, a silver in squats and deadlift. I got a gold medal and overall weights I got a gold medal and world championship.”

Webb owns three national records, including one for deadlifting 259 pounds. However, she had to qualify and be invited to the World Championship, where 60 countries were represented. That’s where Webb deadlifted 265 pounds.

“My job, and I’ve been restricted to this at my own request, is to load the bar,” said Dick Webb, husband and coach. “So I don’t have to lift more than 45 pounds.”

Their trip to Sweden resulted in two silver and two gold medals, beating a competitor a decade younger.

“I heard these people cheering me every time I went out on the stage to compete and I thought, ‘I wonder who they are, maybe from the U.S.?’” Webb said. “They were from Iceland, rooting me on!”

Webb said she won’t be slowing anytime soon. She’s training for the nationals in October outside Chicago.

“You’re never too old to start,” she said. “No matter how you feel, you can start real light weight, very light, and work yourself up to where you’re feeling good. You’ve got to get that blood flowing.”