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Air Force corporal with passion for powerlifting

After five years of dedicated training Corporal Nicole Smith has made it to the top eight female powerlifters in Aotearoa New Zealand and is the top ranked under-69kg lifter.

03 November, 2023

At New Zealand Powerlifting Federation (NZPF) Nationals in Christchurch recently, Corporal Smith achieved a 190.5kg squat and bench pressed 110kg during the competition, creating new New Zealand records for both. She also broke the existing total record with her total score of 485.5kg in the under-69kg open female weight class, which is the combined score of your best squat, bench, and deadlift.

“Comparatively this total at my bodyweight puts me in the top eight females in New Zealand for this year. Considering we have two females who won their classes at a world level, and a female who came third at worlds this year, I am incredibly stoked with this result. Internationally, I believe my total puts me in the top 20 in my weight class in the world for this year.”

To achieve her record-breaking numbers, Corporal Smith increased the previous squat record in the under 69kg open weight class by 28kg, the previous bench record by 15kg, and the previous total record by 25.5kg in the past six months.

“I did it by losing weight this year to compete in a lower weight class than I previously lifted in. This means it has been about nine months of juggling my usual strength training alongside nutrition and increased cardio, but the results were definitely worth the effort.”

Corporal Smith began powerlifting when it was suggested to her by a physical training instructor, who she was running a strength programme with at Base Auckland.

“I like the predictability of powerlifting. It’s based on three solid movements, so the squat, bench and deadlift, and it’s really rewarding that you can put in the effort and gain the reward.”

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At New Zealand Powerlifting Federation (NZPF) Nationals in Christchurch recently, Corporal Smith achieved a 190.5kg squat and bench pressed 110kg.

“If I show up for a certain number of training sessions and if I eat and sleep well, then I can put myself in the best position to get stronger. When you start, you see a lot of progress quite fast, which is what got me hooked initially.”

Beginning her Air Force career in the Communication and Information Systems trade, Corporal Smith found it challenging to juggle her career, training and attending competitions, but over the years it has become easier, especially since changing roles to work in the Air Force’s School to Skies unit.

“With Comms you do take a lot of trips into the field and away from gyms. In my current role, if we go away we usually have access to gyms.

“My chain of command were all really amazing when they started to understand the passion I have towards the sport. Especially last year when I competed at Worlds, everyone was understanding and super supportive and it was nice to have that support."

“It’s great to be able to have the balance of work and keeping up with sporting goals. When you first join it’s not as easy, but the longer you’re in the easier it gets.”

Corporal Smith’s next goal is to represent Aotearoa New Zealand at the International Powerlifting Federation Open World Championships in Lithuania in June next year, but has some work to do before then.

“I want to compete in a New Zealand competition first and see how I’m tracking and then use that as a decider. Traditionally powerlifting has an on-season and off-season, where the off-season is over Christmas and summer. This year will be a bit different where I’ll be maintaining a bit more frequency and intensity over that typical rest period.”