Women’s Hall of Fame – 2006
1). Linda, What is your personal background?
I am a full time registered nurse, Commander in the Unites States Public Health Service,with the Division of Immigration Health Services.
I was Commissioned in April of 2001 and was called to active duty on June 1 ,2001. I am currently the Supervisor of Managed Care and Chief Nurse for the Division of Immigration Health Care and over see a 35 Million Dollar budget for off site Health Care for illegal detainees in ICE Custody. We manage 14 service processing centers and over 400 jails through out the country.
I was born in Bethpage NY, to Greta and Luke Belsito on May 29,1957. I grew up in an athletic family with my dad being a soccer and lacrosse coach for 30+ years at Manhasset High School. My dad was one of the first men to play lacrosse back in the 40’s before lacrosse had protective gear and cool sticks. He is currently in the lacrosse hall of fame beside many other athletes like Jim Brown . Both of my older brothers played lacrosse and other sports as well. We were always encouraged to do our best and to give 150% at what ever we chose to play. I have an Associates Degree in Health ED., a B.S. in Nursing, a M.S. in Nursing Administration, I am a Certified Sports Massage Therapist, and am studying to take the case management Certification Exam this spring 2006. I worked as a strength coach/rehabilitation nurse with Dr ken Leistner/ Chiropractor for 6 years. My passion is to promote well being, health and fitness for all ages, and also teach stress management to those who need a break from every day stress.
2). What is your athletic background?
I have been involved in athletics all of my life. Since I was a young child I was always competitive and did participate in swimming, volleyball, field hockey, softball, basketball ,and on some level always dreamed of being a World Champion, or someday competing at the Olympic Games.
3). How did you get into weightlifting and competing?
I was always intrigued by the look of a strong muscular body and thought that if I started to weight train I could change my look. I always was bigger and stronger than most of my teammates but never really understood what to do to create a strong leaner looking body type. I always would sneak into the universal at the high school boys training area and my best friend and I would have contests to see who could lift the most on each of the stations and then leave before we were discovered. It wasn’t until nursing school that I would swim an hour a day and use the weight room at a local county facility that I was told that I had potential. I was introduced to free weights by a former NY Jet, and he sent me to a gym that had a coach who could help me with my powerlifting technique. After I got out of school I began to compete in bodybuilding and powerlifting and did very well on the local and regional level. Finally I was told by a well known strength coach that I needed to make up my mind and choose a sport. I chose Powerlifting. I went to my first competition at the state level won my division and lifted at my first National meet in 1985 where I took second place and set a national BP record . I was bitten and felt that rush of wanting to do better next time so when I got home I devoted the next 5 yrs training , perfecting technique and getting stronger.
4). What contests did you compete in, how did you ? What are your best lifts?
I have sent you a brief lifting history to show you the history of 23 yrs of competitve lifting. My best powerlifts in competition are 430SQ,231BP, 455DL, Total was 1106 Total at the National level. My best Olympic Lifts are 65kg snatch and a 82.5 clean and jerk. I have gone up through the weight classes to achieve the 1000 + total that at one time was considered a benchmark for elite lifters.
5.) You were involved with the ADFPA ( American Drug Free Powerlifting Association), tell us about it.
I was involved with bodybuilding & powerlifting and did very well in the USPF, IFBB, and was introduced to many different people and training techniques. I had been approached about trying anabolic steroids to enhance my size and strength but never wanted to take the risk , it some how always felt like that was a short cut to a goal of trying to be a champion. I know there are differences of opinion on this topic, but as a registered nurse, a coach to young athletes, and a mentor for those that I work with it is not a choice that I accepted. It took me five years to get to the National and World level. But the year I went to Paris represented the USA and won the Gold in 1990 my first world Powerlifting Championship. OH WHAT A FEELING!!!! I felt I had found an organization that believed in my philosophy of drug free lifestyle and so I stayed. That is not to say that I didn’t lift in any other organizations , I did and did very well. Over all of my years I always fell into the top 10 lifters in the country open and tested contests. I think I held my own pretty well.
6). You competed in Powerlifting for a long time , what made you switch to Olympic lifting?
Believe it or not I had felt like I had done it all . I returned from the World Powerlifting Championshps in Oct. 1997, won my first masters worlds and best female lifter. That year I had gone up to the 80kg class to total 1100 lbs in 3 consecutive contests within 6 months. Guess what ? I was tired. I needed something new, a challenge so I asked a friend of mine to show me the olympic lifts. After she and another coach friend got off the floor laughing they realized I was serious. So the olympic lifting quest began in Feb. of 1998.
In 1999, I won my first master National Weightlifting Championships in Scotland and then traveled to South Africa with the Masters World Powerlifting Team and won Gold. I became the first Woman to Win two world Championships in the same Year 6 weeks apart.
Since then I have won the Masters Olympiclifting Worlds Total of 4 times and won the Masters National Championships, 5 of the 6 years.
Last year I competed at the Maters World Games in Canada that are held every 4 yrs and won the Gold and resemt the records in the 75 kg. class.
7). Besides the difference in the lifts, what other differences are there in the sports?
Both sports demonstrate strength how ever the 2 are so different. I think for me these are the main differences. I was able to pick up powerlifting pretty quickly and even if my technique wasn’t all there I still made gains and could learn the basics over a short period of time. As time went on and working with many different coaches, I finally found out what worked for me. To this day I listen to my body and train smart and I have been very successful for many years. I have changed my routines and tried different things and have had a lot of experience in trial and error, lots of error, but it paid off. As far as the Olympic lifting I immediately learned what it was like to fall down a lot, stretch, move fast, and learned how to escape from a bar that eventually would be over my head and might fall. I feel since I’ve been doing the Olympic lifts I actually have gotten stronger, more athletic and fast . Those who have known me through the years say that my body has changed for the better , my lifts look explosive ( words that were never used in the same sentence as my name) . I have done better probably because we do not use any supportive gear in Olympic lifting and this is where you can get very strong. This sport takes a long time to master and a lot of patience. You must get the technique down first then you can attempt to lift the heavier weights . You just can’t muscle these lifts , you must respect the sport and get a coach who really can teach you the proper technique.
8). Now what is your daily routine for Weightlifting?
I train 3 times a week usually Tuesday ,Thursday,Saturday, . The training days are split up into specific routines to work the snatch and clean and jerk , and all essential parts of the lift on different days , power jerks, power snatches, high pulls snatch and clean and jerk, jerk off of the racks , squats (back and front) , on different days, and depending on the day I like to mix in abd .work , low back exercises and other accessory exercises to enable me to tolerate bigger lifts. I also stretch every day and walk every day.
9). What kind of supplements or vitamins do you take?
I take a multi vitamin supplement as advised by my chiropractor who does a complete nutritional analysis and then we base my intake on my specific needs. As an athlete, woman, and a full time R.N. , my life has it’s share of stressors. I do take protein shakes and bars as supplements, I drink plenty of water, usually get 7-8 hrs sleep a night and over the years have learned to listen to my body. If I do not feel right I put off the training until the next day to be totally recovered.
10). What are your future plans and comments on Weightlifting?
My future plans are to continue to compete on the international level for as long as I can. In 1999 I was the Women’s Master Champion of Dual World Championships in both Olympiclifting and Powerlifting at the Masters level. This was pretty special and hard to top. I am the first woman to hold these titles simultaneously in the same year and still pinch myself when I look at the photos. I would like to become more involved with coaching, writing, and serving as a mentor for those who wish to begin lifting. I believe that if you are a SMART lifter, you can do well into your senior years. It keeps you young, healthy & helps you to set goals. For me it has allowed me to travel all over the world. I have met such great people and those memories last forever. I have worked with many coaches to learn more about the sport. I think that I have a lot to offer to the sport as a woman and as a seasoned competitor. I would love to start writing and maybe someday put out a book to share my experiences as I moved from novice to expert and back again. But I have to say one thing, I wouldn’t trade places for any thing.
Being a part of Powerlifting and Weightlifting has been a lifelong dream come true and how many people do you know can say that?
Being Nominated and Inducted into the USA Women’s Powerlifting Hall of Fame is another Lifetime Dream come true.
I am PROUD to stand on the podium representing my country and hearing the National Anthem, I cry just at the thought.
For those of you who have not had that opportunity , or those who have just begun, I always remember this, ‘LIFE IS A JOURNEY, NOT A DESTINATION”.
Never Let Anyone tell you can’t. Train smart. Set realistic Goals. And don’t ever stop reaching for the stars.
Thank you for this opportunity and honor of being Inducted into the USA Powerlifting Women’s Hall of Fame. ~ Linda Jo Belsito
Linda Jo’s Photo Gallery
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2006 USAPL Women’s Hall of Fame Sponsors
The Women’s Hall of Fame Committee would like to thank those who sponsored Bettina’s induction to the Women’s Hall of Fame. Each of the sponsors below played an important part of helping with the induction ceremony held at the USAPL Women’s Nationals in Denver, CO, February 10, 2006
- Quest Nutrition
- Robert Keller
- Titan Support Systems