Badeaux preps for world competition
By GEOFFREY STOUTE
A journey that began with LSU powerlifter and Berwick High School graduate Kiela Badeaux’s curiosity, followed by a lot of hard work in between, now is taking her to Poland for the biggest competition of her young life.
The 2007 BHS grad, who recently won her third consecutive USA Collegiate Nationals Powerlifting title this year in the 123.5 pound weight class, was chosen to represent her country along with other women as members of the U.S. World Powerlifting team. The squad will compete at the 2012 International Powerlifting Federation’s Sub Junior/Junior World Powerlifting Championship in Szczyrk, Poland, Aug. 28-Sept. 2. Badeaux will lift on Aug. 29 in the 125.8 weight class.
“Being invited to any world championship is the highest honor you can receive as a powerlifter, and so for people my age, the Junior/Sub Junior World Championship is the biggest honor there is,” Badeaux said Tuesday.
For Badeaux, an LSU student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science and Dietetics (she already has a degree in anthropology), powerlifting is a fairly new venture. The Morgan Citian began lifting in recent years after she wanted to find out what the roommates she was assigned with in college were doing.
“They all lifted. Three days a week, they would disappear for three or four hours at a time and (I) had no idea where they were going or what they were doing,” Badeaux said. “So one day I asked and they told me about powerlifting. I asked if I could come and see what they were doing because these were my friends, we were getting close and I wanted to know what they were doing.”
Upon first entering the gym, she was confronted by Mike Godala who was helping with the LSU powerlifting team at the time. (He is now the team’s head coach.) She said his personality, a “boisterous” one, frightened her.
“The first thing that came into my mind was, ‘OK, I’ll do whatever you want just don’t eat me,’” she laughed looking back now.
By the end of the first session, she knew powerlifting was for her.
During her first year of powerlifting, a time she spent learning the sport and not competing, she said she struggled because she wasn’t strong enough physically or mentally to handle the sports’ rigors.
“I couldn’t deal with the physical pain, and I wasn’t mentally strong enough to work as hard as I needed to to be good,” Badeaux said.
While powerlifting may seem like it is all about strength, Badeaux said 80 percent of the equation is mental.
After she grasped both, though, she began competing. During her first year of competition in 2011, she won her weight division at the USA Powerlifting Collegiate Nationals in the 123.5 pound weight class.
She followed up her performance with championships in the same weight class in 2011 and this year.
During this year’s championship performance, she set personal records in the bench press (181 pounds), squat (352 pounds) and deadlift (330 pounds).
Her selection to represent the United States at this year’s international event was determined through performances at nationally-ranked competitions throughout the year.
Fortunately for Badeaux, she made the team during her last year to qualify for the Junior competition, comprised of competitors ages 19-23.
Although she will be the only male or female representative from LSU competing at this year’s Junior/Sub Junior World competition, she said her school has had multiple lifters qualify to compete at the international level.
“We have world caliber lifters on our team, both alumni and current,” she said.
As for Badeaux, at the world competition, she said the big contenders are always Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Japan.
“Those are monstrous countries,” she said. “The Japanese are always known for their big bench presses, and the Russians and Ukraines are just ungodly. It’s not even fair,” she laughed.
Because powerlifting is not an Olympic sport — it’s not sanctioned by the NCAA, either — Badeaux said the Junior/Sub Junior World Championship would be the equivalent of the Olympics for her age group.
She said the opportunity to represent her country is an “unreal” feeling.
“It hasn’t really hit me,” she said. “I don’t think it will hit me until we touch down in Poland. It’s a bigger honor than I could have ever imagined I would be granted.”
With such a lofty trip comes many expenses, though, and Badeaux is asking for the public’s help to assist her with the trip. She said she would provide those who help fund her trip with updates on her training progress.
“There are no words for how grateful I would be for anything anybody can offer,” she said.
All donations can be made out to Kiela Badeaux, and checks can be mailed to: Kiela Badeaux, 1112 Sixth St., Morgan City LA 70380.