Profile Abigail
Powerlifting competitions aren’t something you’d expect a fourth-year medical cell biology student to be entering. But Abigail Kong just entered her first lifting competition this October — and came out on top.
 
"The dynamic definitely changed from when I used to be not as muscular. Males respect me more now," Abigail says on being a female in a typically male-centric sport.
 
In the days leading up to the Scarborough Fall Qualifier, an Ontario powerlifting meet, Abigail realized that she was a few pounds too heavy and worried she wouldn’t meet the weight requirement. With a week left until the meet, she would limit her intake of carbs and only drank liquids for the two days before the meet.

On the morning of the meet she was still slightly over the weight requirements, so she packed on loads of sweaters and went for a run at 5 a.m. By the time of the meet later that day, she just barely met the requirements for her weight category and ended up winning not only her category, but the entire meet as she lifted more than any other female competitor. 

"I made the cut luckily," Abigail recalls. "Since I won the meet overall, so it would've been fine if I had been in a higher class." 

This meet was her first official win, but she has bigger plans over the next few months. Having won the Fall Qualifier she’ll be heading to centrals and then hopefully will qualify for nationals. 

In February she along with other Western students will be heading to the Seneca College University meet as members of Western Strength. At this meet Abigail plans on setting a world record: the International Powerlifting Federation junior world record at 57kg. She’s already achieved this feat and even higher in her practices, but in order to officially gain the world record it needs to be recorded at an official meet. 

The journey to this high level of powerlifting has been long for Abigail. At just 11 years old, Abigail wasn’t old enough to join a gym, but she convinced her dad to buy her a pull-up bar. By 14, her dad got her a bench press and by 16 she was old enough for a gym membership. Now 21, a typical training week for Abigail consists of working out at the gym six days a week, twice a day, and she’s also on a dragon boat team at Western.

Balancing high athletic ambitions with high educational ambitions isn't something Abigail struggles with too much. She recently applied to some universities in Canada for optometry and is in the process of applying to a few schools in the United States (in California, New York and Texas). She says she's learned to balance the two endeavours and always works hard to make time for her workouts. 

"I'm so committed to it now, it's not a choice to not do it now. I prioritize it," Abigail says.

Her inspiration to enter the sport came from within the family. Both of her grandfathers were powerlifters in their youth, and although they never went pro, they inspired her to enter the sport.
 
Abigail adds that she never anticipated entering and winning competitions, but simply wanted to look good and gain a more muscular physique.

“I know they [the media] try to hype up that being skinny is better, and that’s not always the case,” Abigail says. “I feel people should just be happy with the way they are regardless. And if they don’t like something, then they have the ability to change it.” 

Abigail recalls getting negative comments about her muscular appearance. She says a close friend recently once told her she was getting “too big” and it was ugly. Abigail simply responded, “Well I like it, I don’t really care if you like it.” 

Abigail knows what she wants and has her sights set on that world record. 

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Managing Editor of Content

Rita is the managing editor of content. She was previously a news editor for two years and recently graduated with an honours specialization in political science.

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