by K.J. Lincoln
When Natalie Hanson was a kid growing up in Bethel, the thought of becoming a powerlifter never occurred to her, it just never came up.
Now at age 29 she is a world-class athlete with six powerlifting world records under her belt.
“It’s been kind of an interesting experience because I didn’t necessarily go into it with that goal in mind, but that’s where I ended up,” she said.
Natalie Hanson is Bethel-born and raised, a 2008 graduate of Bethel Regional High School where she participated in sports, including volleyball, which continued on into her college years. Natalie was enjoying being home in Bethel for a few days last week.
“I competed in sports my whole life, I’ve mostly played volleyball. That was kind of my focus sport,” continued Natalie. “And then in college I played club volleyball and after that was over I kind of needed something to fill my competitive desires and so I started doing crossfit competitively. I did crossfit for a few years and really gravitated to the strength component.”
That gravitation led to her first powerlifting competition. She was 22 or 23 years old at the time.
“I always wanted to be lifting heavy and I found that was what came most naturally to me. I did a powerlifting meet and I really liked it,” she said. “I thought it was enjoyable but I wasn’t sure how far I would take it. It just kind of seemed like more of hobby at the time.”
A few folks early on noticed that she had potential and the talent to accomplish great things. They let her know it. By 2013 Natalie competed at her first National competition. She slowly but surely climbed up the ranks.
The barrier for entry to powerlifting is lower than other sports because the skill is not very advanced, said Natalie. “You can start as a powerlifter later in life at 20-something years old or even later and still become one of the best in the world,” she said. “And so a lot of people just see the natural talent and the athleticism and they recognize if you can work hard and show that you have good work ethic then you’re going to go far.”
And work hard she does. Natalie works out 4 times a week for about 3-4 hours. She currently lives in Fort Collins, Colorado where she trains at Elevate Barbell, a strength training facility.
Now her next goal is to compete at Dubai. She is currently part of the USA National Powerlifting Team. Dubai, United Arab Emirates will be hosting the next World Powerlifting Championships. Natalie’s parents Rick and Kathy Hanson will be there.
She gets nervous before each competition. “My parents will be there to cheer me on,” she said. They have also traveled to some of her other meets.
The World Open Powerlifting Championships will be from November 18th– 23rd, 2019.
What about the Olympics?
“It is not the Olympic team, unfortunately,” she explained. “So the Olympics has a sport called Weightlifting in it. Weightlifting is comprised of the Snatch and Clean and Jerk. Looks really similar to Powerlifting. So the events in powerlifting are Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift. It is kind of a sister sport to weightlifting. The two sports are very related.”
The World Championship is the highest level that you can compete in powerlifting, Natalie said. Every four years there is something called the World Games which is sister competition to the Olympics.
“It is basically all Olympic-recognized sports that are not in the Olympics. There are lots of random sports and powerlifting is one of them. The production level is similar to the Olympics. You have to qualify from the World Championships to get to the World Games. The next one is 2021 in Alabama. So that is kind of the next goal,” she said.
Can you tell us what you’ve accomplished? All your records?
It is amazing.
“I’m getting to a point where it is hard to keep track,” she said. “I have won USA nationals 3 times – 2017, 2018, 2019. I have won the world championships in powerlifting two times in 2017 and 2018. And then I just recently won the Bench Press world championships in Tokyo and that was 2019.
“I had a good bench press in competition so they invited me and I thought a trip to Tokyo sounded like a great idea. It turned out really good and I won and set a world record. And I have set world records in a few other competitions. I think I am at 6 world records now.”
Natalie holds the world records for the Squat at 603 lbs., Bench Press at 422 lbs., the Bench Press only at 445 lbs., and the total record at 1,479 lbs. She also broke two of her own records which equals six incredible world records.
You’re going to be world champion!
People saw that Natalie was naturally strong and more than once she would heard them say that she would someday be a world champion.
“I was just kind of like, that seems crazy,” she said. “It took several years but now I am. What I really like to share is that when I was a kid I didn’t envision myself growing up to do this. And that is not to discount anybody who does have a childhood dream that they are pursuing but just that it is important as you get older to have an open mind and be willing to do things that are outside of what you could have envisioned yourself years ago doing. As a teenager I wasn’t imagining that I would be any sort of high level athlete but it just kind of happened and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”