If you are needing a dose of inspiration you need to look no further than to Weyburn woman, Marnel Spencer. Most of us have never broken a national record, how about breaking so many you lose count? That may be a stretch for most but that is the case for champion powerlifter Marnel Spencer. Spencer only entered the sport seven and a half years ago, taking to the sport like a fish to water and now at almost 60, Spencer has now broken almost 60 national records and one unofficial world record, she literally had to go back and count how many records she has broken. With no end in sight, the elite athlete is now on Team Canada and will be competing on the world stage this October in Newfoundland.
Upon meeting Marnel, you cannot help but notice her humble persona, she is kind, gentle, and caring. And if she is wearing a baggy pair of sweats and a bunny hug, you may not notice that she is an elite athlete. However, zip her down to a muscle shirt and leggings, and it is clear, that this is a woman who packs a lot of power with a physique that any 20-year-old would admire. She may be pint-sized weighing just under 47 kilograms, but don’t let her petite size fool you, she is mighty, Spencer can squat over two and a half times her body weight and deadlifts almost three times her body weight. Oh, and did I say she is almost 60?!
While training as a powerlifter has now become an integral part of Spencer’s life, powerlifting is not something she actively pursued on her own, rather it was something she had initially avoided.
“Ryan Fowler actually got me started, he approached me multiple times and I declined multiple times and then I finally gave in,” shared Spencer. “I trained for two and a half months before my first competition in Saskatoon, and that was it, I was hooked.”
Coach Fowler clearly saw the potential in Spencer, at her first competition she broke multiple provincial records.
We all know the demands of family life but growing up in a family of 17 children is an entirely different ball game, this also meant competitive sports were off the menu. Until her powerlifting career, Spencer did not have a history of competing in competitive sports.
“I am always so thankful to Ryan for pestering me until I did because I have never been involved in sports, we had a large family and we were out on the farm and we didn’t get to drive into Weyburn every day to do sports activities,” explained Spencer. “I was the least competitive person you would ever know; I was totally non-competitive and then once I started this, I found a passion for a sport which was freakish, and a kind of competitive side came out in me.”
Over recent years, Spencer has grown into a world-class athlete, however, when it comes to powerlifting there is one thing the small-town farm girl still finds challenging.
“I don’t like being in front of people and kind of always been one to stay in the background, once I get out on stage I kind of freeze up and get super over the top nervous, that part I don’t actually enjoy, (getting on stage), the rest of it, I love,” shared Spencer. “Sometimes I get out for my first squat, and I am just shaking.”
Being the center of attention is something Spencer is not at all fond of, so much so that she will rarely agree to do an interview, but her story is far too inspiring not to be told, so with some gentle coaxing, she agreed to meet with Discover Weyburn.
While Spencer may also experience intense stage fright, her determination to overcome speaks volumes as she continues to break records. This past May, Spencer competed in her fifth Nationals competition taking home national records in all her lifts for a total of nine new national records. And that’s not all, Spencer also broke an unofficial world record in the assisted squat category squatting 116 kilograms, over two and a half times her body weight!
Spencer shared, that come this October at World’s in her weight and age division of M3 and M4 she is hoping to break the official world record because in her home gym at Olympia In Depth Performance she is already able to squat 120 kilograms, the current world record is 115.5 kilograms.
We are cheering you on ‘Mighty Marnel’!
Video Courtesy of Marnel Spencer's Facebook Page.
While breaking records is certainly exciting, the driving force behind Marnel’s commitment and dedication isn’t necessarily about the grams. We asked Marnel what she likes most about powerlifting.
“The records are great but just the daily happiness and connections are everything, I am so lucky to have one of the top coaches in Canada and our team is so encouraging, supportive, and fun,” shared Spencer. “I’ve met so many incredible people during this journey of competing and this whole powerlifting community is just like family.”
“I definitely do this for myself and not for the gram, also, I love the feeling of being mentally and physically strong, I love that I can put my two grandboys on my back and run around and give them piggyback rides at my age.”
Spencer’s powerlifting journey has created some unexpected surprises.
“The support I get from Weyburn and friends and family and from people I don’t know, makes me very emotional,” shared a teary Spencer.
Spencer also really wants to give a huge shout-out to her coach Ryan Fowler and to Olympia In Depth Performance for giving her an amazing facility to do her training.
Spencer’s training schedule is full as she power lifts four times a week and does cardio and accessory training the remaining days.
While training as a world-class athlete is certainly exciting, it does not come without its challenges. Spencer’s trip to World’s in Newfoundland carries a hefty price tag, she is now looking for sponsorship to help cover the costs.
There is one question that remains. Is there a national record for the person who has broken the most national records? If it's Marnel she likely won't tell you. If there is anything we can learn from Marnel Spencer and her story is that it is never too late to dream.