Coming to powerlifting relatively late in life has not stopped Glenda Presutti from taking the sport by storm and rapidly emerging as a force recognised nationally and beyond.
It’s not been easy, the 62 year old (in 2018) registered nurse has overcome numerous injuries. Over 2017 and the first half of 2018 she was faced with a right hip labrum tear, a right supraspinatus rotator cuff tear and lateral knee meniscus tears which are both ongoing. The worst injury was a debilitating L4/L5 spinal nerve compression with agonising neuralgia which caused her to take two months off work.
“I do lots of rehab and further injury is always a potential risk” she says.
At the time of writing she holds an astonishing twenty one records at Australian National, Commonwealth and World level – the two world records are in squat and total. She’s been classed as elite by Powerlifting Australia since 2013.
Vegan since 2016, Glenda is open about some of her records being achieved as a non-vegan, although she stresses that in the three competitions as a vegan she’s broken seven records.
On her two year anniversary she competed at the Australian Masters Championships in Melbourne. The August 2018 meet saw her weighing in at 59.6 kg. She squatted 113 kg to take a new National record in the Masters 3/63 kg category, and her bench of 56 kg was also a National record. A deadlift of 148 kg was disallowed, although the lift of 142.5 kg gave her a total of 311.5 kg. This meant that she was classed (based on the Wilks points, which enables lifters in different weight categories to be compared) as the best lifter of all weights in her age group and ranked her 8th of the 40 participating lifters between age 40 and 70.
Glenda remembers the date she went vegan, which was August 6th, 2016.
“I discovered PETA and I began to read about all aspects of animal agriculture and all the cruelty related to use of animals in entertainment, products, testing etc. I was horrified and began sharing these things. I was privately contacted by a vegan Powerlifting friend who reached out to me and gave me some information so I thought, I want to do this. I’m just being a hypocrite to continue being an omnivore now that I knew the facts.
“So I did 4 months of research and I stopped eggs and dairy then after I competed in USA I went vegan. I didn’t want to fail and going overseas I wasn’t sure how difficult it would be so I waited until I got back. It’s been easier than I ever imagined.”
“I have all vegan non leather powerlifting gear as well. I would never again eat animal products and travelling is not an issue. I am well used to food prepping and doing for myself wherever I go. I hold my nutrition as a high priority and eat a fresh non processed diet.“
Eating healthily isn’t a problem. “I eat a huge volume of in-season fresh fruit and vegetables daily. I add higher sources of plant protein such as tofu, my home made Seitan, some vegan Quorn and plant protein powder. I add vegan omega 3 sources such as vegan algae oil, flax oil and flaxseeds. I am a weight class athlete so maintain a strict nutritional plan and for health reasons. You are what you eat, and I want to be a long living healthy vegan.”
It seems to be a winning formula, and enables Glenda to keep training regularly. She trains four times each week for an hour each – three times with her trainer and once alone. She focusses on supporting the injury areas, while also optimising strength in the three powerlifts.
“I bench twice a week, squat twice a week, deadlift 3 times a week, leg press twice a week some bicep and lat work too.”
Glenda tells us she has never had criticism or concerns about her veganism from her coach or people she’s trained with, and she manages her own nutrition.
Activism and future plans
Glenda has achieved so much, although one of the most rewarding things is “being able to inspire so many older women to just have a go and hope I’ve helped many people over my short sporting career.”
She’s also taken part in spreading the information about animal agriculture which inspired Glenda to go vegan. “I am part of a small group of activists here showing animal agriculture activities and slaughterhouse footage in our Main Street monthly with Anonymous for the Voiceless. I am passionate about raising awareness of the way animals are cruelly and unnecessarily bought to our plates as it was the very reason I became vegan.”
“I have had a lot of positive responses, people contacting me for advice and many have reduced or stopped eating animals just from me posting information on social media and this makes me very happy! “
She also plans to continue pushing the boundaries in powerlifting, which was why her 2018 comeback was important.
“I never missed any training all around this but didn’t think I’d ever compete again. So my greatest achievement was this last competition. To make a comeback!! My future hopes are to continue to compete for many years, plugging away at the records, staying as uninjured as possible.
“I’d never stepped foot in a gym or lifted a peanut until I was nearly 50 years old so who would think I could have got to this. Not me. Since then I’ve excelled in obstacle racing, did Tough Mudder, mini triathlons, distance running 10 km under 55 minutes, CrossFit etc until I discovered my strength ability after my body started rebelling with the other stuff.
“So 12 years later I’m here!”
In October 2018 she competed in Brisbance where she won the Open category (64 kg) despote being the oldest by some margin. She broke her own national squat, deadlift and competition total records (read more here).
October 2019 saw her compete in the Australian Masters Games in the same weight category. She broke her own records for all three lifts and the total (more here).