Katie Tyre can throw some weight around. And it didn’t take her long to learn to do it either.
While most of us would think long and hard about dead lifting 300 pounds, Tyre, 17, of Slater, made it look easy, winning both the bench press and overall powerlifting gold medals in the women’s 17-19, 198-pound weight class Saturday. She bench pressed 100 pounds.
While her combined lift of one fifth of a ton is impressive enough, that Tyre began lifting just two months ago may make her lifting prodigy of sorts.
Yet, it wasn’t the possibility of Show-Me State gold that lured her into the weight room.
“I play a lot of sports and I decided I wanted to go into the weight room and get a little better,” said Tyre, who plays basketball, softball, and throws both discuss and shot put during track and field season.
She contends the process has been a gradual one, with the Slater High School coaching staff playing a major role in keeping herand her teammates motivated. Her mother, Kathy Tyre, encouraged her daughter to give lifting a chance because, as a soon-to-be senior in high school, the time to do it was fleeting.
Tyre stood out for another reason. She was the only woman in the 18-athlete contingent from Slater, and one of only five women in the 60-person field.
Kathy Tyre said that though the coaches had their doubts about whether her daughter would compete, there was little doubt in her mind.
“They didn’t really think she’d do it,” Tyre said. “But you don’t dare her, because she’s going to do it.”
Lifting could be considered a way of life in Slater, a town of just over 2,000 people an hour west of Columbia, where its athletes lift in weight room that lacks certain amenities — such as air conditioning.
Decked out in black t-shirts, Converse Chuck Taylor’s, and lifting suits, all of its lifters walked home with hardware, continuing a tradition that extends back further than most people can recall.
“I couldn’t tell you how long, but it’s been a long time,” Tyre said. What is certain is that it can’t be any longer than 17 years, the length of time powerlifting has been a recognized sport at the games.
Kathy Tyre cited a rural heritage and spirit as the motivating factor behind her daughter’s, and the town’s, success in the sport.