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St. Albert woman lifts city onto international strongman stage

"I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, it's moving!' And it went up, and I went, 'Woah. I lifted something that was 400 pounds. I hope I can do that again one day."

St. Albert strongman competitor Gen Segger represented Canada at her first SBD Official Strongman world championship games in December 2023 in West Virginia and far exceeded her own expectations.

“All I thought was, ‘I’ll probably come in last. It’s my first worlds, right?’ And I actually finished in the top 10 and was able to compete in the finals,” Segger said.

For only starting the sport six years ago, the 50-year-old competitor has gone to, and won, many strongman competitions in the province and country. She has been the reigning masters provincial champion for three years, has finished in the top three at nationals in the past two years, and is qualified to go to her second world championship this year.

She even deadlifted 400 pounds at worlds, something she had never done before. She said she couldn’t believe she did it.

"I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, it's moving!' And it went up, and I went, 'Woah. I lifted something that was 400 pounds,'" Segger said, with a smile. "I hope I can do that again one day."

The passionate competitor now loves the strongman sport, but wasn't interested in it initially. Segger said it was "not [her] thing," as she was a long-distance runner training for a 50-mile ultramarathon when she got her first taste of strongman.

Segger would compete in events where she would come in dead last, but she didn't mind as she enjoyed the sport and became stronger.

"I'm still blown away because I'm 50," Segger said. "Eventually, I'm not going to be able to get stronger anymore; I'm getting old. But I’m still getting stronger. I am just shocked.”

While Segger loves the sport, she can find it challenging to get the mental and physical motivation to train. She said on a deadlift training day, she lifts 9,000-11,000 kilograms (20,000 – 24,000 pounds) a session and then goes to work afterward.

“With every event, every workout and training, no matter how I feel, I have to get my brain thinking, ‘You got this.’ And that is mentally exhausting. It’s like you have to put all your doubts aside.”

Even though the training is hard, Segger is still amazed at finding herself getting stronger. She said she had pulled a truck, lifted heavy stones, and pulled a yellow bus with people she asked to get inside it to make it heavier.

The competitor even mentions the Atlas Stones in her backyard, which she uses as weights and garden decorations.

"You know how you go to the gym, and you lift a barbell, and everything's so even and perfect?" Segger said. "But in your day-to-day life, nothing's perfect, and nothing's even. So, that's the idea ... lifting odd, awkward objects like you would in everyday life."

It's in the name that strongman has been dominated by men since its start in 1977, but the growth of female strongman competitors has increased since Segger took on the sport. More female teenagers are participating in the sport, and Segger loves it.

“Girls didn't weight lift when I was young," Segger explained. “It’s kind of funny watching us old ladies, but we can still do some pretty good stuff.”

Strongwoman Segger’s current goal is to train for the upcoming 2024 worlds and to lift a beer keg over her head. Her overall goal is to see how far she can get with her strength and to keep lifting until she can’t lift that one sandbag anymore.

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