For mathematician, weights add up

September 23, 2004, vol. 31, no. 2
By Marianne Meadahl

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Justin Gray can add up weights faster than most mathematicians.

The SFU math lecturer is a powerlifter, ranked first provincially and among the top five in Canada in his weight division.

At a mere 67.5 kg (148 lbs), skinny by powerlifting standards, he can bench press 120 kgs (265 lbs), squat 185 kg (408 lbs) and dead lift an amazing 230 kg, or 507 lbs - a personal best performed in the SFU gym Sept.13 for SFU News.

Gray joined the B.C. Powerlifting association (BCPA) and became involved in competitive powerlifting three years ago.

“I started weight training 16 years ago because I was very skinny, then only 55 kgs (121 lbs), and wanted to become more physically fit,” says Gray, who began training at the campus gym as an undergraduate student. He continues to train three days a week. “I was impressed by how strong the varsity athletes were and that inspired me to become stronger.”

Gray says powerlifting differs from weightlifting in that it utilizes the entire body to push, pull and support as much weight as is humanly possible for the athlete to move. Existing Olympic weightlifting events, called the snatch, and the clean-and-jerk, rely on speed and strength as well as technique, with a view to lifting the most weight overhead.

A provincial-level referee and executive member of the BCPA, Gray now promotes the sport, and hopes it may one day be added as an Olympic venue. He'll compete next at a tournament in Chilliwack Nov. 14, where he hopes to qualify for the 2005 national championships in April.

Gray says there are about 115 powerlifters registered in B.C. and about 600 across Canada, from age 14 to some over 60 years old. For more information contact Gray at

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