Sue Hallen

Women’s Hall of Fame – 2018

Interview:

When did you Begin Powerlifting?
Late 1980’s, but not seriously until 1993 when I started training with Ruth Welding and competing in ADFPA meets – locally in the Viking Open, Omni meets. My first nationals was in 1997.

What is your athletic background?
Team sports as a kid thru my late 40s – softball, basketball, volleyball. I played on the varsity basketball, volleyball and bowling teams in high school. It was just after title 9, so softball and track were not offered for girls at the high school level in my school. I played on competitive softball leagues outside of school. I caught fastpitch softball for well over 20 years. I was always the tomboy, riding bikes, playing any sport I could get into. In college, I focused on getting my engineering degree, and outside of rec sports, I played rugby. In my mid-thirties I tried powerlifting and got serious about it in 1993 or so. I also started throwing (shot, hammer, weight, discus, javelin, throws penthalons) in track and field in my early 40s, then added highland games to the mix in my late 40s. I was inducted into the Masters Highland Games Hall of Fame in 2013, the first woman inducted into this group. I have been a World Champion in the W50+ twice for Highland games since starting in 2007 and held several world records in light and heavy hammers.
I inherited my father’s Swedish stature (short, stocky and naturally strong) and it fits for all kinds of strength sports. I just like to play and compete. I am still active in powerlifting, track and field and highland games.

How did you get into Powerlifting?
Some friends I worked out within Florida wanted to try it in the late 80’s. I knew about it from the Purdue Powerlifting team from when I was in college, where several of the rugby team also competed in powerlifting (Kathy Tuite Leistner, Ruth Welding in particular). I did a couple bar (literally, the parking lots of drinking establishments) meets in Florida, but started in ADFPA when I moved back to Illinois/Indiana and started working out seriously.

First Meet Experience?
Local Illinois meets put on by the great Dennis Brady…the Viking Open, Illinois State to name a few. And then Indiana meets in Schererville (at the old Omni), Columbia City and Ft Wayne. This was ADFPA royalty to me…every meet was an example of great meet management, great officiating, and great lifters – most were previews of Women’s and Men’s National competitions. You knew if your lifts were passed at a Viking Open, you were good to go for nationals. I also started refereeing at the same time. Competing with folks in the caliber/class of Ruth Welding, Sandy Brady, Stephanie Whiting, Judy and Roger Gedney, Mike and Angie Overdeer kept me humble, honest and wanting more.

Best Meet?
Hard to have just one. My best total was in 2009 at nationals, 460 kgs. My best year was 2001 where I won Gold at Masters Worlds, took 5th in IPF Open Worlds, and Gold at World Masters Bench.
The Masters World teams are like family. Coaches like Alex Galant and Ruth Welding are hard to find and I treasure them.

Accomplishments?
I never kept track of my results or medals, but for this honor, I went back and looked. I do not have any of the local early meet results (though I remember my first bench meet I won with a whopping 155 LB bench!). This is the summary of national and world competitions from 1996-2017:

 

 

 

 

Best lifts: Squat 175 kgs (2009, 2010, 2011 Nationals), Bench 130 kgs (2007 Nationals); Deadlift 165 kgs (2001 World Masters)
Best Total:  460 Kgs: SQ 175, BE 125, DL 160 (2009 Nationals)

 Highlights/Memorable Events?
Unfortunately bombing out of my first nationals and two worlds are memorable…but it keeps me honest and coming back for more. You learn from your mistakes, right?
Until 2001, Women had Light/Middle/Heavyweight classes at master’s worlds. In my first master’s worlds in Usti nad Labem, CZ, I took 7th in a stacked group of 14 including my friend the great Harriet Hall. My second world meet in Sun City South Africa, the US team in the “Heavy” group was Ruth Welding, Linda Jo Belsito and me (quite the range!). It was cardio powerlifting with only 6 in the flight to start with and I bombed in squats.
But on the good side: I had the World Record for a Bench Only Worlds (Killeen, 2002) with a 125 kg…I went for 137.5 on my last attempt and missed it. Competing with the Open world team in 2002 was an honor, coming in 5th out of 7 wicked strong ladies including Liz Willett.
The biggest highlights for me are the people, and the support you get from everyone. It is highly competitive, but supportive at the same time. I love my powerlifting family!

Who influenced you in powerlifting?
She is my conscience for depth in squats, pauses in bench and lockouts in deadlifts; my training partner and coach; and my life partner Ruth Welding.
Working with Judy Gedney, Stephanie Whiting, and Sandy Brady in the early days of the ADFPA/USAPL women’s committee was inspiring. I learned a lot about meets and life from these ladies.

Contributions in Powerlifting?
I served several years as the Women’s Committee chair (between Sandy Brady and Liz Willett, late 90’s/early 2000’s.) I was a member of the committee for several years before and after.
I have been a National level official since the late 90’s, working both local and national meets. I endeavor to make it a level playing field for all competitors.
A group at B&W gym has gotten women together and have training sessions, so I have been actively working with the B&W team to get that moving forward. And I hope that being a role model on the platform, in the warm-up areas and off the platform have contributed also.

As your name goes down in history, what would you like to be most remembered for?
Good question, I guess for being steady and strong on the platform. And for being a fair and consistent official. And for supporting other lifters, locally, nationally, and on world teams.

What words of wisdom would you like to pass down to the future female powerlifters?
Never give up. Listen to your body. Keep lifting strong!