Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 1st 2017 Contents 12 UWI TODAY -- SUNDAY 1 OCTOBER, 2017
As a female powerli er in Trinidad and Tobago, Syanna
Andrews has encountered a considerable amount of
negativity. It has not stopped her one bit.
She was introduced to powerli ing in 2015 and in
that short time, Andrews has already represented T&T
twice internationally. e rst was at the North American
Championships in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands in 2016.
In July this year, Andrews competed at the Pan American
Championships in Orlando, Florida. She topped her class
and earned T&T a gold medal.
It was a welcome surprise for Andrews, a second-year
UWI, St. Augustine linguistics and languages student, who
said she expected to do her best, but not to win.
"I'm still shocked because I didn't expect it. In the
moment it was about doing what I had to do, focusing on
li ing, remembering everything my coach said. I was in my
own world. It took a while to sink in, but when I think about
all the work that I put in and where I came from in terms of
injury and all the times I thought about quitting, it was worth
it," she said. "To hear my national anthem being played in
front of all these international athletes and experiencing
that sense of national pride was great."
Competing at the international level was an encouraging
experience for her. "Internationally, being a woman is not
an issue and it's super inspirational to see other women
compete and to witness the kind of weight they can move,"
said the 24-year-old athlete.
e local arena has been slightly less motivating. Of the
A STRONG WOMAN
Worth her weight in gold
BY ZAHRA GORDON
"Powerli ing is a sport that forces you to meet yourself and learn who you are."
20 members on the national team, only eight are women.
In addition to low female participation, Andrews also faced
some opposition to her involvement in the sport.
"In smaller communities we're more focused on
physique and not wanting girls to look like men, but with
powerli ing it's not so much about the aesthetic, it's about
the function of the body. A lot of people look at me and don't
think I li the amount of weight that I li because I'm not
very muscular and I don't look like a bodybuilder," she said.
"That's the most challenging thing about being a
woman in this sport: people expect me to remain feminine.
ey'll say things like 'Don't look like a man, and don't li
too much.' My family at the beginning used to make jokes
and say things like you're not going to have any children or
you'll get a hernia. People assume certain things and think
that you're not supposed to be doing that as a woman. So
it's nice to be able to dispel those myths."
Another challenge Andrews faces is maintaining a
balance between training and school. Andrews has to
manage studying and gym sessions, sometimes driving
straight from class to training with her coach, Sanjeev
Teelucksingh, at Evolution Gym in Chaguanas.
The rigorous training required for national and
international competing is also new territory for Andrews,
who was not active in sports during secondary school.
"Being active is not new to me as I was always involved
in a lot of things, but more arts-related: choir and dance. I
played football and swam for school but not competitively,"
" e level of training needed to represent the country
takes a lot of time and dedication. A minimum gym session
for me is three hours. It's not easy, but anything you want to
do you have to give to it."
Andrews is hoping that this balancing act will help her
become an ambassador for both her country and the sport.
"What I really want to do is be a translator or interpreter
and the good thing with powerli ing is that you get exposed
to a lot of di erent athletes and cultures. You can travel the
world with this sport when you're good enough. I feel like
making these connections and friends will broaden my
horizons and I really want to bring that knowledge back
home," she said.
On a larger scale, Andrews would also like to be an
ambassador for female powerli ers. She has a poignant
message for women within and outside of the sporting
"Powerli ing is a sport that forces you to meet yourself
and learn who you are. It gives you back so much more than
you put in, even when you're putting in a lot, the rewards
are inexplicable. It's the type of sport where you're always
trying to beat your best li . I want women to know that this
is not a sport for men only. e women who compete in this
sport are incredibly strong mentally and physically and those
are the type of women we need more in society: women
who know how to be strong and who are not ashamed or
afraid of that."
PHOTO: ATIBA CUDJOE
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