…’She thought she could – so she did’…
Valerie Gweneth Silver
Tell us about yourself. What do you do outside of the gym?
For the past ten yeas I have worked as a professional support officer with people who are homeless. Love my job and I am good at it…I only work seven shifts a fortnight now. It’s the ideal job for an athlete who needs lots of time off work to train.
When not training or working I am out in the parks and the local bushland with my dogs. One is a female cattle dog and the other is an off the wall crazy strong Jack Russell. They both love to hear my car coming up the road from work or training. They know its their walk/run time!
How did you come to strongwoman? What drew you to it? How long?
I have always had a strong body….I learned ballet for many years when a young girl. But I was too short, body the wrong shape (like a brick) and I was a lways cast as the male dancer because I could lift the other dancers.
As a school girl I played Vigaro and netball. As a young woman I played hockey (not very well) and as an adult women I played cricket (safe hands fielding in slips!)
About eleven years ago I discovered Kettlebells – an ongoing passion. This led me to Olympic Weightlifting and I have competed in Australia and Overseas in this sport for the past 10 or so years. About 2 years ago I added Powerlifting .
I have many friends around the world in these two sports but Strong Woman has taken over my training interests . I love to lift, drag, pull and push heavy odd shaped things.
I weigh 60 kgs and at age 68 I am always competing against not only younger (by decades) competitors but usually much heavier athletes.. But the encouragement I get from them is outstanding..
Who/what inspires you and why?
Several people inspire me. My mate Angela Bell is so much fun.. I did my first strong woman comp with her and we laughed and supported each other all day. Keya Woodland of course is inspirational…love catching up with her every now and again. Also my sister Kathleen who is in a wheelchair…she used to be a champion swimmer and is as strong as me but without the use of her legs.
Do you do any other type of training/sports?
I train Olympic lifting and Power Lifting and recently added MAS wrestle. I compete overseas about two to thee times a year. Current World Champion for may age and weight in Olympic Lifting and current Asia Oceania Power Lifting champion for my age and weight.
What is your favorite and least gym movement and/or Strongwoman event & why?
Love the chain yoke. Love competing at ISF Beaudesert Strong Man Woman comps which are held in a horse paddock. You get to lift quarry stones, pieces of tractors, axel wheels and any other farm implement that William Johnson can find laying around the place.
Probably Monster dumbell…..its a big ask for me…my age and shoulder strength are against me…but I still try.
Also the strict overhand Axel bar deadlift is difficult for me as I have small hands…need to reverse grip it but in some comps its not allowed
What are you training for next?
I am in intense training mode preparing for a three day event to be held in Las Vegas in September this year. Over the three days I will be competing in Olympic Lifting, Power LIfting, MAS restle and Feats of Strength (FOS).
It’s a marathon. Not for the faint hearted. There are up to twenty individual FOS events and the more I can compete in and win the better I will be set up to win some major awards.
My super coach Trent Thurtell from Body Dynamics Training has written me a four day program that covers all disciplines and its pretty intense. In order to build resilience for this I compete in at least two comps a month in one of the disciplines.
What is your favorite Strongwoman specific memory/ achievement/ PB?
First Atlas Stone to shoulder 30 kgs…laughing while I did it.. Same with first 30 kg Log overhead. So proud of myself at the time.
How do you stay motivated?
My grand daughter aged eight often says to me “Grandmas are strong aren’t they”. Its just a fact of life for her. I say “They sure are” as I watch her do twenty cartwheels on the spot without being dizzy!
What is your best piece of advice for beginners?
Get some technique advice very early on. A background of lifting has taught me a lot of ways to lift safely. Train with a coach who competes.
Call yourself a Strong Woman. Hang around other Strong Women.
If you want to be a lady (whatever that really is?) – frock up on Melbourne Cup Day! Don’t take that label into the gym
Are you a sponsored athlete?
No but love to be. xxx
Strongman Achievements to date:
Pulling a tractor. Best fun ever. Women are Strong like King Kong!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
World champion Strong Woman for my age and weight while still competing in Olympic and Power Lifting. Have to go to USA to achieve this as there are age and weight divisions in Feats of Strength comps.
Probably be coaching Power Lifting and Strong Woman. Be an advocate for older women in Strong Woman by arguing for minimum ten year age increments in competitions.