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Lifter headed to state hall of fame

Christine Sorenson was the only one surprised by the announcement that she would be inducted into the California Powerlifting Hall of Fame.

It was overdue, though, considering the 57-year-old woman’s 14-year career ended in 1991. During that career she established four American records – a 498-pound squat, 231-pound bench-press, a 496-pound deadlift, and a 1,102-pound total for three lifts – as well as 16 California state records encompassing four weight classes.

Still, Sorenson never thought of herself as the dominant lifter her numbers revealed. That, mixed with the Hall of Fame committee taking 15 years to induct her, took the thought out of her mind.



Earlier this year her son, Gabe, also a competitive powerlifter, sent the committee documents establishing her success in an attempt to get her into the Hall.

It worked.




“I’m one of those people who never thought I was as good as I was,” Sorenson said. “So it was a surprise for me. … When I got the invitation, I was so excited.”

The ceremony is taking place at 9 a.m. today at Evergreen Valley High School in San Jose. Also being inducted today are Scott Roberts (Superior, Colo.), Dave Van Brocklin (Pleasant Hill), Manny Burruel (Artois), and Rick Cirigliano (Burlingame).

Today’s Sorenson is vastly different from the one in the mid-1970s, who was intimidated by the big-bodied builders filling the gyms as she was feeling her way around.

With guidance from some special coaches, Sorenson continued her success from her early athletic career.

Sorenson spent her younger years playing softball, tennis and running as a student attending Burlingame High School in the Bay Area. At a time when girls and sports were not commonly seen together, Sorenson excelled.

So it wasn’t much of a shock when she entered as unfeminine a sport as possible. But her rationale wasn’t to prove she could compete with the boys.

“I knew I could eat all I wanted,” Sorenson said with a smile.

She started in the 148-pound weight class, before moving on to 165, 181, and 198.

These days Sorenson’s closest contact with the sport is through Grass Valley’s Power Unlimited team, which she helps coach along with her husband of 32 years, Michael. She also still lifts, but mostly for her own pleasure.

The old competitive fire isn’t there anymore, she acknowledges. Instead, she prefers watching the Power Unlimited athletes further their own careers.

“I love sharing my knowledge of the sport,” she said. “I’m enjoying it. I love it.”

Today, five others will also be lifting for her.

Following the induction ceremony, members of Power Unlimited will be competing in Christine’s honor at the San Jose Bench Press and Deadlift Open meet.

Steve Matthews, originally from England, is competing with a bad back in his first meet in the United States. Matthews owns Anytime Fitness, where Power Unlimited trains.

Matthews’ wife, Karen, is also taking part. So will their 6-year-old daughter, Teal, who will lift in an exhibition. Karen is one of her team’s most successful members, after having set four California state records in a meet in March. Power Unlimited’s Curtis Pracht and Joe Beebe are also lifting.

And none of them are surprised to see Christine entering the Hall of Fame.

ooo

To contact sports writer Jeff Miller, e-mail jeffm@theunion.com or call 477-4240.


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