Weight of the world

Breanne Potrie

Photo By Monica Unhold

For most people, the title of world dead-lift champion would call to mind a steroid-ridden Schwarzenegger type. Breanne Potrie is just the opposite. This makeup-wearing girly girl says she enjoys the surprised looks she gets when she tells people she’s into heavy lifting. For Potrie, who’s just 19, being an attractive woman in a masculine sport is motivation rather than an obstacle. She has set out to prove that women can be both cute and strong. In addition to training between eight and 10 hours per week at The Body Shop gym, she is studying to be a dental hygienist at Butte College.

How did you get started weight-lifting?

In high school [at Paradise High] Cliff Ferris was my coach for discus and shot put. He kept encouraging me to pursue dead-lift and telling me how strong I am. He and I have been power-lifting together for a few years. I didn’t know I could do this kind of stuff. At the first competition in Yuba City I lifted 260 pounds. I had only lifted 225 in the gym before that. I thought to myself, “Wow, I didn’t know I was capable of doing that.”

So how did you earn the title of World Dead-Lift Champion?

At the WABL [World Association of Benchers and Dead-Lifters] state competition in Chico in June, I went after the state record of 303 pounds. I didn’t get that but I lifted 292 pounds, which is the most I’d ever lifted. Then at nationals in Sacramento in August I went after the state record again, and ended up breaking the state record at the world competition by lifting 308.5 pounds.

What’s your favorite thing about the sport?

I guess it would be that I’m a cute girl, but I can still be strong; I don’t have to be an ogre. I want to prove that you can be cute and strong. I don’t think that people expect me to be into dead-lifting; it comes as a shock to them. I like to be unique and to surprise people. At the world competition I competed with so many different kinds of women, including a lot of Samoans. A lot of the women wear a suit when they lift. The suit helps lift an extra 25 or 50 pounds but it’s really tight and form-fitting. I don’t like to wear a suit and I don’t use them in competitions. I’m proud that I was cute and I could still lift well.

Do you have any other hobbies?

I was a competitive swimmer for quite a few years. I’m just into a lot of sports. I like to do anything that’s competitive.