This mother-daughter powerlifting duo is winning gold together in Labrador 

Two women smile on a workout bench.
Dana Hanrahan, 47, has started competing in powerlifitng alongside her 17-year-old daughter, Abi Hanrahan-Miller. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

When Abi Hanrahan-Miller of Happy Valley-Goose Bay started powerlifting, the 15-year-old had to bring her mom, Dana Hanrahan, to the gym to supervise.

Two years later, the two are still heading to the gym together — but now her mom is pulling her own weight and winning gold.

“I always joked that it would be a dance duo,” said Hanrahan, now 17, in a recent interview. “But unfortunately it got replaced with powerlifting.”

Hanrahan-Miller started going to the gym because she had a strong upper body and wanted to build on her strength. The owner of Gears Gains in Happy Valley-Goose Bay saw her bench 115 pounds — 52 kilograms — and introduced her to powerlifting. In May she won gold in her age and weight class in the Canadian Powerlifting Union national championships.

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It’s a powerlifter’s dream. Abi Hanrahan-Miller is heading to Turkey to compete internationally. But at the local competitions, she’s had someone special competing alongside her: Her mom. Hear more from CBC’s Heidi Atter.

While travelling with her daughter, Hanrahan said she was surprised to see women her age and older competing. 

“A couple of women were coming up to me and going, ‘You know what? This has helped me through cancer treatments,'” she said. “It’s an amazing society and community … and they’re like, ‘Anyone can do this.'” 

Two women smile at the camera. Their hair is disheveled from a day of lifting weights and competing.
Hanrahan-Miller and Hanrahan competed together at a powerlifting meet in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Aug. 13. Both won gold in their respective classes. (Submitted by Abi Hanrahan-Miller)

Hanrahan signed up for a powerlifting program and the 47-year-old made her competitive debut Aug. 13 in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, alongside her daughter.

“It’s actually a bit powerful because a lot of women my age don’t think that they can do this. You know, our knees are too bad, our necks are too bad and stuff,” she said. “It built up my muscle and helped me actually get over a lot of the injuries I had. It took me out of heart attack range.”

Two women smile at the camera while standing in a gym.
Hanrahan and Hanrahan-Miller say they never thought they’d become a powerlifting duo. Hanrahan says her mom is far too strong to be embarrassing. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

They each took gold in their respective categories. Hanrahan-Miller said she never thought in a thousand years they would be a powerlifting duo, but she’s “very grateful” that her mom is following in her footsteps.

“When your mom is as strong as mine is, it is far from embarrassing,” she said. 

Hanrahan said she hopes other mothers and older people realize they can participate in the sport and that it’s a family atmosphere. She’s taking a break from competing to cheer her daughter on at the World Classic and Equipped Sub-Junior and Junior Powerlifting Championships in Istanbul later this month. 

A judge places a medal around Abi Hanrahan-Miller's neck as she stands on the first place podium in St. John's for the national competition in March.
Hanrahan-Miller won gold at the Canadian Powerlifting Union national championship in May. As a result, she’s representing Canada on the international stage at the World Classic and Equipped Sub-Junior and Junior Powerlifting Championships in Istanbul later this month. (Submitted by Abi Hanrahan-Miller)

“My body is very sore. I’m really just about to break down. But you expect that in the last few weeks of prep,” said Hanrahan-Miller said. “At the end of the day, all I can do is the best that I can do. So I’m just going to go out there and try my best.”

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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