UBC Home Page -
UBC Home Page -
UBC Home Page UBC Home Page -
News Events Directories Search UBC myUBC Login
- -
UBC Public Affairs
UBC Reports
UBC Reports Extras
Goal / Circulation / Deadlines
Letters to the Editor & Opinion Pieces / Feedback
UBC Reports Archives
Media Releases
Services for Media
Services for the Community
Services for UBC Faculty & Staff
Find UBC Experts
Search Site

UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 6 | April 4, 2002

Uplifting Vision Helps Blind Athlete Excel

UBC lab technician finds award-winning strength.

By Helen Lewis

As a child, Nancy Carpenter watched in awe as Olympian Vasily Alexyev competed on weightlifting's world stage, and she dreamed of doing the same.

At the age of 39, with her sight fading fast, Carpenter refused to let go of that vision. Legally blind, she could no longer play most of her favourite sports - baseball, track and field, softball, basketball, squash and cycling.

But she held fast to the weight-lifting dream, and in 1995 took up the sport as a masters level athlete.

Just two years later, the UBC Biotechnology Lab media technician won gold for Canada in the International World Masters Games, setting a world record in weightlifting (57.5 kg clean and jerk in the 59 kg class).

Now 46, and tiny at 156 cm and 65 kg, Carpenter has taken countless medals in provincial, national and international weightlifting and power-lifting competitions - realizing her dream every time she steps up to lift.

"I'd always wanted to do this as a kid, but girls didn't weightlift when I was young and there weren't even any gyms for women," she says. "During the 1972 and 1976 Olympics I watched Vasily Alexyev and the greats of that time on TV and thought, 'Isn't that great, they're so strong. That's what I want to be - strong.'"

Carpenter admits it is unusual to compete in both weightlifting (also called Olympic lifting) and power-lifting, and even more unusual to start in the sports as late as she did.

"It's hard because you're training for two sports and five lifts, and they're very different. Power-lifting is about short movements and brute strength, while weightlifting is more athletic - there's greater co-ordination, flexibility and movement skills," she says. "Most people I'm competing against started earlier, but this sport is about testing yourself. I'm a workhorse - my style is basic hard work, discipline and consistency."

Carpenter trains at home ("I don't have a house - I have platforms and squat racks," she says) six days a week.

With a degree in physical education and a teaching background, she also trains several clients in weightlifting and physical conditioning in her home gym.

Her long list of medals includes three gold and two silver in B.C. weightlifting championships, as well as second, third and fifth placings in three world weightlifting championships.

In power-lifting, she won best dead-lift, best squat and best bench in the 1997 B.C. championships, second in open power-lifting in the 1997 national championships and gold in the 1998 World Masters Games bench division.

But for Carpenter, the sport is about more than competitions.

"It's not confined to the gym - it helps me in real life. I never have trouble carrying groceries, opening lids, moving heavy things," she says.

"My friends all want me to help them move house, and in the office I'm the one who can move the photocopier. It keeps me energetic, healthy and better conditioned."

Carpenter says she wants to lift "until I fall over" and is motivated to be a role model, proving that women can be fit and strong well beyond 35.

Her next goal is to compete in the World Masters Games in Australia in October, where she aims to lift 62.5 kg in the clean and jerk in the 45-50 age division.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

to top | UBC.ca » UBC Public Affairs

UBC Public Affairs
310 - 6251 Cecil Green Park Road, Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z1
tel 604.822.3131 | fax 604.822.2684 | e-mail public.affairs@ubc.ca

© Copyright The University of British Columbia, all rights reserved.