Judy Gedney

Women’s Hall of Fame – 2004

Biographical Information

Born: In Cook County Hospital, Chicago Illinois on September 26, 1940

Current Residence: Raised on the northwest side of Chicago; attended Taft High School, the University of Iowa in Iowa City; Northern Illinois University in DeKalb and Louisiana State University in Baton Rough, LA. Was the Director of Dance at Grinnell College in Grinnell Iowa; the Physical Education Chair at East Leyden High School in Franklin Park, IL and currently reside in Macomb Illinois where I�ve taught at Western Illinois University for about 34 years.

Powerlifting Details

How did you get interested in Powerlifting?

Judy Gedney

As the women’s gymnastics coach at Western Illinois University I was looking for ways to increase the gymnast’s leg power. While watching a visiting friend’s workout (she was training for a powerlifting meet) I realized that these exercises might help the gymnasts tumble higher, dance and leap higher in their ballet moves and be better able to absorb the momentum of their landings. The spring semester would end in 6 weeks so there was little time to research the effects squats and deadlifts would have on the gymnasts. Roger designed a 6-week training program for 3 gymnasts, a graduate student and myself. (Since I was making them lift weights, I thought I should suffer along in the training. Besides, I too wanted to test the outcome of the program.)

Within 4 weeks I noticed impressive improvements in the gymnast’s performances; I also noticed that my legs and hips were firmer. At the end of the 6 weeks, the gymnasts returned home for the summer break. The graduate student and I decided to enter a women�s powerlifting meet held in a Chicago suburb. The intent of entering an official competition was to see if this sport might be a viable option for my gymnasts during their “off-season”. We did not realize the high caliber of the women lifting in that event.

Unlike the high stress levels involved in coaching and competing in gymnastics, powerlifting competition was relaxing as well as fun. After my 3rd bench attempt, a man from the audience came up to us asking if we realized that my lift was within 10 lbs of the 97 lb class world record. We had no idea they kept powerlifting world records. On May 25,1980,at the age of 39, I won the 97 lb class with a 180 lb squat; a 115 lb bench (no supportive shirt) and a 225 lb deadlift going 9 for 9 totaling 520 lbs. On the drive back to Macomb, the thought of returning to the role of a competitive athlete sounded enticing. It was becoming more difficult to motivate the gymnasts to train diligently and by contrast, this new-to me sport provided a unique opportunity; I could resign as the women�s gymnastics coach and return to the role of an athlete. I did that and started to work. That work continues.

What is your role in Powerlifting?

As of May 25, 1980 my first powerlifting role was becoming a self-disciplined, motivated, hard working competitor. That simplistic job soon developed into becoming a coach, referee, meet director, athlete�s representative within the USPF as well as an athlete. I appreciated the work others had done which allowed our “Athletes for Christ Powerlifting Team” to travel to meets; for several years, we were averaging 1 meet per month. It was fun but soon drug use among the women lifters became clear; there was a real need to develop a drug-free lifting organization. Mike Lambert came up with this idea and encouraged Brother Bennet to take the lead in the ADFPA. I worked as a member of the Executive Committee through out the existence of the ADFPA. During that time not only were we the only drug-free sporting organization that actually tested and sanctioned positive athletes but amazingly we became the largest powerlifting group in the US. My summer break as well as holiday breaks and most weekends were invested in typing By Laws, rulebooks, minutes, referee tests, etc. As one manuscript would be complete there would be corrections to make along with annual updates. In 1987 the ADFPA Executive Committee met with European representatives who wanted to establish international drug-free powerlifting. The first international competition was held in Reading England on June 6, 1988. On June 26 each Nation’s Executive Committee met and after a long day of discussion, the World Drug-Free Powerlifting Federation was established. Back to the typewriter to type minutes, rule books, etc., etc. I�ve been involved in this sport for 24 years. My role continues to be athlete, coach, International WDFPF and National USAPL referee, WDFPF Secretary General, and promoter of drug-free sports as well as an encourager of women to become involved in resistance training.

What are your titles/best lifts/records?

I�ve competed in just over 200 meets and won the ADFPA Women�s Nationals and WDFPF World Championships many times as well as the Masters� Nationals and World Championships.

My best squat was 292 lbs at 102 lbs. on Dec. 8, 1989 at the Longhorn Open in Austin Texas. My best bench was 175at 101 lbs. on Aug. 30, 1986 at the Milan Bench Press and Deadlift meet. My best deadlift was 329 lbs at 101lbs.

On June 18, 1988 the week before winning the WDFPF World Championships in Reading England. My best totals were 766 at 2 different ADFPA National Championships at body weights of 101 and 105 lbs.

What is your most memorable Powerlifting Event? Majik Jones comes to mind, as she was probably the strongest drug-free woman in the US during our USPF days.

Jan and Terry Todd for their dedication to the sport during the AAU, the USPF and the ADFPA eras, their fight to require drug testing, as well as for their work in organizing the USPF Women�s Committee which carried over into the ADFPA.

Stephanie Whiting for her service-minded dedication to promoting and developing the sport of drug-free powerlifting. Few of you know of her developmental work on Constitutions, Mission Statements, Ethics Committee work, Executive committee work, not to mention her willingness to travel extensively to help with officiating and coaching.

Dennis and Sandi Brady along with Pat Malone who�s dedication and visions for the future provided us with competitive opportunities, guidance and direction in the development of a drug-free sport and who were keenly aware of progress made by the athletes. When people would ask me what lifts I had done in a specific meet, I would tell them to ask Pat Malone as I had forgotten. Between Pat and Dennis, there was little doubt of which lifters to target for out-of-competition drug testing, they were attentive to all the meet results. Diane Frantz doesn�t realize this but I learned to persevere in the deadlift because of ongoing pulls working with weights that seemed to be unmovable.

Highlights

Setting my first World Record: Our Athletes for Christ women�s team competed in a Quad Cities meet Friday evening. We dropped off the girls in Macomb and then drove to Indiana where International Referees would be available to referee. I competed again but this time set the World Record. As I made the lift, it seemed as if I floated up off the bench and to the scoring table where the equipment was checked, paperwork completed. It was indeed an exciting time. The next week while in my office, I received a phone call from Jan Todd who wanted to know if it was true that I competed Friday night before setting the World Record on Saturday.

Winning the 97 lb. IPF World Championships. The rulebook states that the winner of Nationals wins a slot on the US Team going into International competition. I did not win the USPF Women�s Nationals that year but I was blessed, as this was a drug tested meet. MANY lifters were disqualified due to positive drug tests. Amazingly, in one of the weight classes, the first 5 places of women were positive. My 2nd place in the Nationals turned out to be good enough to travel to Hestra Sweden for the Women�s World Championships. The Opening Ceremonies and the 97 lb competition were scheduled for a Wednesday evening. Because of the weigh-in and warm-ups, I missed seeing the Opening Ceremonies. During the warm up, I noticed that the 10 other 97 lb lifters all appeared to be drug-free, an added blessing. My first squat was high; that was stressful. As I went out for my 2nd squat, I picked up the weight and started to back out of the racks when an official noticed a mistake in the load. I was instructed back to the racks but the spotter on one side, did not have the bar in the very small saddle so as I started to duck out of the rack area, the left side of the bar slid down my back. The audience screamed and the spotter grabbed the bar and freed me. I was a referee so I knew the rules, they should allow me to unwrap my knees and be moved to a latter attempt. The U.S. Head Ref was rattled because he didn�t catch the misload, rather than following the rules, he told me to stay on the platform. The refs all got out of their chairs, gathered around the bar and finally discovered the misload. The corrected it and while I was standing there, legs numb, I again asked the judge if I could unwrap and squat later. He was still so flustered that he simply called out �SQUAT�. Now I was really confused, I walked up to the bar, got under it again, picked it up and backed out of the wracks. My mind was racing, this was my 2nd squat and my legs were totally numb from being wrapped so long. I was irritated with the mistake made by the officials and as I got the additional �squat� signal, I decided to just do the best I could and then appeal the red lights due to the officials� mistakes. Amazingly, with steam coming out of my ears, the squat was successful. I was barely able to walk off the platform.

At that time, the bench press was my strong lift but the competition was equally frustrating. On my first attempt, the official giving the hand-off did not release the bar above my chest instead he continued to push the bar forward; I didn�t know what to do but when the bar was over my hips, I let out a yell. He started to turn as he released the bar to leave the area. His turn pulled the right end of the bar closer to my chest area and I was able to then get the left side of the bar into position. I did the lift and called my next lift. As I got into position for the 2nd attempt, I had my hands on the bar and waited for the lift-off. I could see the official approach and as he was about 1 step from the bench, he stumbled and fell forward. I quickly took my hands from the bar, as I did not want the officials to be able to say that this was the lift-off. When I opened my eyes, I was face-to face with the young man who was now trying to recover but was draped over the bar. The audience was yelling for a replacement lift-off official. At this point all I could do was laugh. I did get a lift-off and made the attempt. When I walked out for my 3rd attempt, the announcer was saying in a heavy sing/song Swedish accent: �Vhat vill dey do to little Udith next?� The 154 lb lift was also good and to give you an idea of the changes in powerlifitng over the years, this was the heaviest bench of the 97 lb class.

My bench pulled me up on the scoreboard standing; my opening deadlift moved me up higher. By the completing of my 2nd deadlift, it was clear that I had won the Championships. I wanted to try a 319 lb deadllift for my 3rd attempt but only got it to my knees�but I still won the World Championships.

The awards ceremony was incredible. They started by announcing the first place lifter so I went out on the platform wondering if I would be able to step up that high to the 1st place position. When they had announced all the places, our US National Anthem way played and I finally looked out over the sea of multicolored warm-up suits in the audience. What a whopper-stopper; a totally impressive sight. I could hear Roger sobbing in the background so as soon as the National Anthem was finished, I asked the announcer to wait a moment, he didn�t know what was going on so he paused while I invited Roger to come out and stand on the 1st place platform with me. There weren�t too many dry eyes in the audience.

The rest of the team returned to the hotel restaurant for supper while I along with the 2nd place lifter waited to be drug tested. (I have to tell you at that point I was hopeful that all the first and 2nd place lifters would be drug-tested. Those of us who have been around for awhile will not be surprised to learn that mine was the only weight class where both 1st and 2nd place lifters were tested.) We then returned to the hotel and as I walked into a packed restaurant, I got a standing ovation; wow! Clearly, many of those people had no idea of why they were on their feel clapping but they certainly knocked my socks off. Stephanie and Theresa and saved 2 places at their table for us. They evidently had made a wager as to what I would order. I ordered 3 different desserts!

A couple of days later, as we were being bussed back to the competition, I could tell that the Canadian 97 lb lifter was looking a bit strange. Because Kathy had been more outgoing earlier in the week I asked her what was wrong. She said that she was aware of my lifts, kept magazine results and pictures on her apartment wall, she even knew that I would beat her but what she didn�t realize was that she would be beaten by someone older than her mother! That too was a HIGHLIGHT! I was 45 years of age when I won that championship.

Winning Best Lifter at our first WDFPF World Championships held in Reading England was another blessing and highlight.

I�ve been competing for 24 years so the stories and highlights are many and include cheering on teammates as well as competitors; coaching other world class powerlifters from our gym; presenting strength training clinics to coaches of all sports; writing letters of encouragement to other lifters and coaches and working to develop the ADFPA to its maximum potential.

Words of advice to lifters:

Remember above all, that we are blessed with strong, healthy bodies which not only respond to the overload principle but additionally, this gift from God repairs ageing cells as well as damage done to tissue. Sadly, this amazing gift is usually taken for granted. Train drug-free and train diligently as well as scientifically. During each training session, focus on TECHNIQUE. Develop a determined attitude to NEVER COMPROMISE on form or rules. Get the experience of competing in as many meets as possible. Fight to STRIVE FOR EXCELLENCE in ALL that you do as a �thanksgiving offering� to your Creator.

We need to inform women concerning the benefits of training with the powerlifts. We�re all aware of consequences caused by Osteoporosis but do you know that this bone loss begins as early as the mid twenties? That�s probably because people tend to become physically inactive early in life. We need to tell women that by stressing the vertebra vertically, the spinal bone density increases. Research verifies that resistance training increases bone density. Because of the small amount of testosterone in our systems, women do not tend to build as much muscle mass as men. Weight training does increase lean muscle mass, therefore body weight as measured by the scale may increase. This is a positive outcome because with the additional muscle tissue comes an increase in the body�s metabolic rate. That increase tends to burn more calories throughout the day than does adipose tissue. Translation: fat tissue stored within the muscles and elsewhere in the body begins to be burned up as fuel for the muscle tissue.

Getting people involved with weight training provides not only the above positive outcomes but also improves heart contraction strength, lowers blood pressure and heart rate, increases balance, joint strength thereby resisting injury, develops confidence, persistence and determination. Develop a habit of trying to always make HEALTHY CHOICES.

Additional Sports Background:

I’ve been a gymnast and a gymnastics coach for a number of years and continue to enjoy watching and working with gymnasts. I�ve wanted to train in Olympic Lifting for years but never had the time to follow through. This past year I competed in my first Weightlifting competition; it was fun and I look forward to continuing that training and competition.