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Linacre Ladies that Lift (Linacre Women's Powerlifting Society)

Training paused due to COVID-19: get in touch to join us when training resumes

Alas, we are not able to train at the moment, because the pandemic has closed the Linacre gym.  If you have read this page and are interested in joining us when training resumes, please fill in this poll. We will keep you posted!  Meanwhile, stay safe, stay strong!  

What lifting with us is like. . .

You can watch this ten-minute video to see what lifting in our club is like.

Linacre Ladies that Lift – students, Fellows and staff, and their spouses and partners – train in the Linacre gym between 19.15 and 22.30 every Wednesday of the year except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.  We also train most Saturday mornings from 09.30 to 12.30, and if there are free places we welcome women from the wider University (students, staff and academics) to the Saturday session.  We welcome all women, cis and trans, as well as people who have a complex gender identity which includes ‘woman’.  Practically we welcome people who are comfortable joining a women's club and are happy to be addressed as 'ladies' in our emails.  We are a varied group of all ages and abilities/disabilities who benefit from excellent structured coaching.  Some of us compete in other University sports (e.g. rowing, athletics); some of us compete in powerlifting events regionally and nationally; some of us train for general fitness and confidence.  Women wishing to join us can email with their goals, any experience of lifting (including maximum weights), and any disabilities or relevant injuries.  You will receive an email reply telling you how to sign up for the next available session.

We are often at our capacity of fifteen women per session, in and out of term, at each of our two training sessions.  Because it is not practical for more than fifteen women to train at one time, and because of the increasing popularity of the club, we have a weekly sign-up system, with priority for Linacre women.

Information about joining…

We welcome new members throughout the year. A maximum of two new lifters are inducted per session to ensure that newbies receive enough training.  If you would like to attend a session please email telling us:

  • what your goals are
  • whether you have lifted before, and if so what your weights were
  • whether you have any disabilities that need to be taken into account

You will be added to our mailing list and receive the weekly sign-up email on Mondays as well as more detailed information about attending your first session.  You don’t need to wear any specialist clothing – normal gym kit is fine, but flat-soled trainers (such as Converse) are recommended. 

Your first session will be free, with the following fees applying on any subsequent sessions:

  • Linacre students, and staff up to and including Grade 4:  £4 per session
  • Linacre post-docs: £6 per session
  • Linacre admin staff (Grade 5 and above) and academics:  £8 per session
  • Partners and spouses of Linacre students: will be asked to put themselves into an appropriate category
  • non-Linacre students, and non-Linacre staff up to and including Grade 4: £6 per session (non-Linacre members can attend Saturdays only)
  • non-Linacre post-docs: £8 per session (non-Linacre members can attend Saturdays only)
  • non-Linacre admins (Grade 5 and above) and academics: £11 per session (non-Linacre members can attend Saturdays only)

No one will be excluded for financial reasons.  Anyone to whom the fees present a financial difficulty can approach a club officer to arrange a different financial contribution, or none.


2019 World WDFPF Full Power Championships

A group of smiling women in powerlifting kit hold a British flag; background is a large auditorium

In October 2019, Jennifer Gooden and Catherine Walter competed in the WDFPF World Powerlifting Championships in Halle, Germany.  Jen (far left in front row, holding flag) won gold in the Masters 1 70kg category, and Catherine (third in front row) won gold in the Masters 7 58.5kg category, and was the Best Female Masters lifter.

2019 National BDFPA Full Power Championships

Five Linacre Ladies that Lift and three Wadham Women Weightlifters competing under the Linacre banner competed in the 2019 BDFPA Full Power Championships in Edinburgh.  We returned to Oxford with a Bronze (Catriona Robinson, Teen 3, 70kg bodyweight), four Silvers (Brandi Simpson-Miller, Masters 2, 80kg; Jennifer Gooden, Masters 1 70kg; Evie Fleck, Teen 3, 63kg; and Ruth Harris, Teen 3, 70kg) and a gold (Catherine Walter, Masters 7, 58.5kg).  Catherine also won the Best Female Masters trophy.

2018 World (WDFPF) Full Power Championships

Five women in gym holding trophies and certificates

In 2018, five Linacre Ladies competed in the World Championships, gaining four golds and a silver in their categories.

Left to right:  Polly Thisdell  50.5kg bodyweight, Junior Gold: Catherine Walter 58.5kg, Masters 7 Gold; Lina Girdvainyte 53kg, Open Silver; Therese Hopfenbeck 55.5kg, Masters 2 Gold; Eva Masmanian 63kg, Junior Gold

2018 British (BDFPA) Full Power Championships

Photo of nine women in Linacre Ladies that Lift competition kit with certificates and trophies (BDFPA Full Power Championships 2018)

In 2018, nine Linacre Ladies qualified for British Drug-Free Powerlifting Association National Full Power Championships, and seven won places on the podium:

Top row, left to right (College, age category, bodyweight category, award):

  • Lina Girdvainyte (LMH), Open category, 53kg bodyweight, Bronze
  • Isabel Stoppani de Berrié (Wolfson), Open, 58.5kg, not placed
  • Professor Therese Hopfenbeck (Kellogg), Masters 2, 55.5kg, Gold
  • Dr Catherine Walter (Linacre), Masters 7, 58.5kg, Gold
  • Brandi Simpson-Miller (Linacre), Masters 2, 80kg, Silver

Bottom row, left to right: 

  • Andreea Antuca (Linacre), Open, 63kg, not placed
  • Polly Thisdell (Wadham), Junior, 50.5kg, Gold
  • Jessica Gillard (Wadham), Junior, 63kg, Silver
  • Eva Masmanian (Wadham), Junior, 63kg, Gold


Women of all levels of ability and disability gain fitness, strength and confidence from the club.  These benefits extend beyond physical fitness.  Here is a sample of the feedback from members:

"Lifting with LLtL was one of the highlights of my time at Oxford. The instruction and feedback were exceptional, and it was a privilege to be part of such a supportive community. Learning how to lift was empowering, both physically and mentally." ​

"The coaching is of extremely high quality and questions are always encouraged, which has been very important to me. I love LLtL because of the atmosphere it provides: a safe environment where everyone gets support in training as much or as little as they like, surrounded by strong women. That alone would be reason enough for me to keep lifting".

"I joined LLtL during a very tough time of my DPhil, between finishing my experiments and trying to make sense of all my work of the past four and a half years. The great atmosphere of the Wednesday lifting session became my favourite getaway, kept me sane, and helped me discover how strong and stubborn I can be. The club also made it to my thesis acknowledgements!"

"After sustaining an injury that limited my lifting and refused to heal, LLtL has shown me the value of seeing problems from different angles. I initially saw my injury in black and white - heal and lift (which wasn’t happening), or give up lifting. The support of the coach and the team allowed me to look at the problem as one of accommodation: What lifts am I able to do? How might I modify a lift so that I can keep building strength without further injury? This ability to accept my limitations and work with them has carried over to my personal and academic life".

"As I have a minor disability, I had assumed that I would never participate in the sporting aspect of Oxford life, particularly as a member of a club. But the condition has caused very few problems when it comes to lifting, so instead, I've been able to improve my fitness and integrate into the life of the College and University more than I had ever thought I could".​

Hall of Fame

National & World Champions (BDFPA & WDFPA) in unequipped powerlifting:

Sarah Cannon (-63kg, Junior): 2013 Scottish National Champion

Therese Hopfenbeck (-55.5gk, Masters 2): 2018 British and World Full Power Champion

Emma-Ben Lewis (90kg+, Open): 2016 British Women’s Squat Champion

Eva Masmanian (-63kg, Junior): 2018 British and World Full Power Champion

Polly Thisdell (-50.5kg, Junior): 2018 British and World Full Power Champion

Catherine Walter (-58.5kg): 2014, 2015 (M6) and 2018 (M7) British Full Power Champion; 2015, 2016 (M6) and 2018 (M7) World Full Power Champion; 2016 Overall World Full Power Silver Medallist;  2016 (M6)  and 2019 (M7) Squat, Bench and Deadlift British Champion; 2018 (M7) Squat, Bench and Deadlift European Champion.

Laura Walton (-80kg, Junior): 2013 Scottish National Champion


Emma-Ben Lewis (90kg+): 2016 National Squat record

Catherine Walter (-58.5kg): Holds all current Masters 7 National & World records in Squat, Bench and Deadlift & Full Power; 3rd in the All-Time BDFPA Rankings for Female Masters (= over the age of 40) Full Power lifters

Participation in University-level Competitions:

Isabel de Berrié: Varsity 2016 (achieved a ‘Half-Blue’), Varsity 2017, British University Championships 2017

Lina Girdvainyte: Varsity 2017, British University Championships 2017 (contributed to the team score, OU women placing 3rd)


National BDFPA qualifications achieved in previous years:

Isabel de Berrié (-63kg, Open): 2015, 2016

Ellie Ott (-50.5kg, Open): 2015, 2017

Catherine Walter with a table full of her trophies in spring 2018Woman in Linacre Ladies powerlifting kit and rainbow socks in mid-squat in competitionSmiling woman in gym kit ready to pick up a deadlift in the Linacre gymWomen powerlifting in gym.  In the foreground, three women are laughing at a bench press station: one is preparing to bench press and the others are spotting.  In the background, at a squat rack, other women are chatting between lifts

Useful documents for members

Briefing for first-time BDFPA competitors here File 1st-bdfpa-comp-briefing_v4.docx

BDFPA National qualifying weights, plus age and weight categories here PDF icon bdfpa-womensqualifyingweightscategories.pdf

Extract from BDFPA rules on clothing and equipment for competitions here PDF icon bdfpa-clothingequipment-oct_2018.pdf