Powerful debut

Kevin Higgins
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Pelley earns four Canadian records at powerlifting event

Weight was once a contentious issue for Gander’s Jonathan Pelley. For that matter, it still is — only in a much different way.

As a high school senior in Lewisporte, Pelley carried a lot of weight, weighing close to 400 pounds.

Then came the day he made up his mind he wanted to change, so he started working out.

“I didn’t want to be the student who had to get a custom-made tux for graduation,” he told The Beacon.

He started working out. It was in 2008 and he was entering his final year of high school.

By the time his graduation ceremony rolled around in June, 2009, he had dropped 180 pounds.

 “I started working out, and I was hooked for life. It (working out) is now more of a lifestyle than anything else for me.”

For the past year, Pelley, who now lives in Gander, was once again focused on weight. However, this time he was looking at adding instead of taking away, building up muscle for another goal.

He was not only able to build his weight but also carry the load, breaking four Canadian records at the Newfoundland and Labrador Powerlifting Championships in St. John’s in June.

The 22 year old made the floorboards shake at Bishop’s College, smashing four Canadian junior powerlifting records, winning gold in the 120-plus kilogram junior division and capturing the top junior lifter award in his first-ever powerlifting competition.

The newly-crowned provincial junior powerlifting champion totalled a Canadian record 702.5 kilograms (1,547 pounds) in the three disciplines, along the way individually lifting 247.5 kg (545.64 lbs) in the squat, 182.5 kg (402.3 lbs) in the bench, and 272.5 kg (600.75 lbs) in the deadlift.

“I was ecstatic about my deadlift and bench amounts, and pleased with squat, but I think I may have low-balled the (the weight) too much,” Pelley said in an interview last week. “I probably could have lifted another 10-15 pounds if I had attempted, but I had an amount in mind entering the competition and that’s what I put on the bar.”


How it came about

Committing himself to training in 2008, fitness became a lifestyle for Pelley.

He registered in Memorial University’s Kinesology program, which he is still working on, as well as becoming a personal trainer in 2011, getting certified through Goodlife Fitness and CanFit Pro. He also opened up his own health supplement store, Refuel, in Gander

So, while training himself, he was also training other people — some for personal reasons and some for competitions.

“I was training people who were competing in bodybuilding competitions, and I got the urge that I wanted to compete,” he said. “I knew I didn’t want to compete in bodybuilding. Then last year, I went to the provincial powerlifting champs and I decided I was going to train to compete.”

With no other competing powerlifters in Gander, Kelley was left to his own devices to prepare for this year’s event.

“I did some research, talked to a few people, and basically taught myself how to powerlift,” he said. “It wasn’t like I had no idea about lifting weights, it’s just that — and most people find this hard to believe — powerlifting is a very technical sport. It took me probably six weeks to get the techniques down.”

From there it was just like his high school graduation goal, buckle down and put the work in.

It paid off.

Not only did he win all those awards at the provincial championships, he also qualified for next year’s national championships, which will be held in St. John’s in March.

 “I’ve qualified, but it will be in the men’s open event and not in junior,” he said. “If I participate, I’m hoping for a podium finish, but it’s going to much tougher than at the junior level for sure…it’s the best in Canada.”


Twitter: @beaconnl

Organizations: The Beacon

Geographic location: Gander, Lewisporte, Canada

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