With major achievements under her belt, Lebanese powerlifting champion Mireille Ajami has been riding the tide of success of late. We caught up with the mom of two to chat about her career and breaking into a male-dominated sport.
How and why did you get into powerlifting?
I started as a CrossFit athlete in 2014 and won two competitions in Lebanon, which secured a Reebok sponsorship. I then noticed my strength in lifting, especially carrying heavy weights while doing squats and the deadlift; so I decided to focus on powerlifting and joined Barbell House in Gemmayze — a powerlifting gym. They saw my potential as a female powerlifter, and it was there that I won first place in the 72kg category.
What is it about the sport that you find most challenging?
I suppose the fact that less that a decade ago it was considered “taboo” for women to be practicing this sport in Lebanon. In a male-dominated environment, it was a challenge for me to focus and prove myself as a female powerlifter; being a mom of two children is also challenging!
What has been your greatest career highlight?
Reaching the International Powerlifting Federation World Championships in June 2019 was a big deal for me. I was the first female Lebanese powerlifter to compete internationally in the 63kg category and was ranked 11th in the world in squats. Besides my professional accomplishments, it’s a great feeling to empower women and show how strong we can be (literally)!
Which sportsperson are you inspired by?
There are two female powerlifters who inspire me: Stefi Cohen and Krissy Mae Cagney.
If someone wants to take up the sport, how do you recommend they get started?
First, you need to learn the basics. It’s important to master the proper powerlifting techniques in squats, bench, deadlift, etc. in order to prevent injuries. I am a master trainer, and I have students of different ages and levels who are learning powerlifting. I also offer online training programs in Lebanon with Aplyft (Aplyft portal), which is a unique platform and app that connects clients to experts worldwide for successful and quality-driven online training.