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World records just part of the game for Moose Jaw’s Stinn

Powerlifting standout coming off of bench press-only world title, preparing for world championships in November
Moose Jaw’s Rhaea Stinn has become pretty used to this whole ‘world record’ thing.

As well she should be – when you’ve cracked the mark six times in the bench press in your career as an internationally renowned powerlifter, it almost becomes expected.

But don’t think the reigning world bench press-only champion in the 72 kilogram women’s division is taking things for granted. Not by a long shot.

“It’s still exciting,” Stinn said with a laugh, acknowledging the sense of ‘passé’ that might come with repeated success. “But the last couple of years, setting a world record has become a reality, especially in the bench. It’s still exciting every time you do it, every time you never know what’s going to happen. Things can change, training can change, new people can come into to sport, so it’s not something I like to take for granted. There’s always more weight to put on the bar, so it’s new goals.”

Stinn broke into sport as Rhaea Fowler back in the early 2000s before later marrying long-time coach Ryan Stinn, himself a high-level powerlifter. Her success had only continued since – Stinn now has 65 provincial, national and world titles to her credit since 2003.

Her most recent success came during the May 18-25 weekend when she competed in the world bench-only championships in Tokyo. There, she covered 191 kilograms on her final lift to just edge Tetyana Melnyk from the Ukraine by a half kilogram. And as you might imagine drama was palpable – Melnyk’s last lift set a new world record of 190.5 kg, breaking Stinn’s mark of 186.0 set at the previous worlds and edging ahead of Stinn’s leading mark of 190 kg.

“It was a pretty big jump in the third attempt for her, but she got it, so I just had to go 191 to shift the record again and take the win as well,” she said.

“It definitely puts the pressure on you for your third attempt. Ryan came and talked to me between my second and third and said ‘okay, do you want to know the situation’ and I basically said to him ‘here’s my guess at what the situation is’. She’d already secured silver with her second attempt, so there’s no reason she wouldn’t jump for it and try and take it. So I figured it was sort of an outside shot that she would get it, but she did and made it look pretty easy, so for my third the pressure was on me just to go out there and do what I had to do.”

The kicker? Stinn knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she could get the job done. Not a confidence thing, either. A simple fact.

“I knew the weight wouldn’t be an issue, just with how the second one moved,” she said. “I just needed to make sure I didn’t do any touchy little faults that could take the lift away from me.”

A few seconds later, new world record and new world champion.

“My second attempt at 190 felt super good and felt really strong, so if she’d have missed with her third attempt we would have gone for something a little bit more,” Stinn said. “But when she made her second there as no point in putting anything more on the bar than you need to do. It was just that one kilo jump… I’m really happy with it, it’s something I hadn’t won before and to get the world record at the same time was pretty exciting.”

Now, it’s on to bigger things, like the 2019 powerlifting championships taking place Nov. 2-7 in Dubai. Even with her success as a bench-only competitor, Stinn has no plans to make it her sole focus, with the next goal being to win the world three-lift title outright.
She finished second at worlds in 2018, finishing behind the U.S.’s Kelsey McCarthy by only two kilograms, with both lifters setting world records in the process: Stinn the aforementioned 186 kg lift in bench, McCarthy 265.5 kg in squat. In fact, Stinn’s total of 658.5 would have been a world record in total as well, if not for McCarthy’s victory.

“Bench-only is kind of fun because there’s less pressure, there’s less stress of having to do all three lifts and putting it all together,” Stinn said. “You can just go out there and see what’s available that day, and since my bench has come along in the last couple of years especially, the bench-only meets have been good because I can focus my training on that a little bit more. But I’ll still be doing three lift, for sure.”

More weight… Regina will be the hub of the powerlifting world during the World Sub-Junior and Junior Powerlifting Championships Aug. 26-31, with 200 lifters from all over the world taking part in the event… Moose Jaw’s Kaylee Maruska, coming off a fifth-place finish in the World Classic championships in June, will be competing in the 72-kilogram division.