Her plan was simple: add some strength while training for a duathlon. Then things changed.
“My coach was interested in doing some heavier weight training,” says Christina (Biedenbach) Ullman ’93. “We started out with some heavier squats and I could tell that something was up because of the look on his face.”
Mitchel Wolfe, who owns Wolfepack Gym in Marietta, had discovered a hidden talent.
“I knew she had a little bit of extra sauce when I met her and we started training, but I was amazed at how abnormally strong she is,” Wolfe says.
After he convinced her to try powerlifting, Ullman quickly made a name for herself. In her first competition in December 2019, she won gold in the Master’s 45- to 49-year-old Raw Full Power competition. Since then, Ullman has claimed 10 world records in the World Powerlifting Alliance, 15 Ohio and seven U.S. records in the American Powerlifting Association, and 16 Ohio records in the United States Powerlifting Association.
“Mitchel asked me if I had any interest in powerlifting, and I told him I didn’t know anything about it,” she says. “However, I have been hooked since my first meet.”
Ullman, who turns 50 in May, was concerned about competing against younger powerlifters.
“The atmosphere at the competitions and the camaraderie among the participants are empowering,” she says. “You go out there to be your best self.”
Federation Rankings (as of February 1, 2021)
American Powerlifting Association
No. 1 All Time and 2020: Women’s Raw, Master’s 45-49, all weight classes
No. 21 All Time: Women’s Raw, all weight classes, all ages
World Powerlifting Alliance
No. 1 All Time: Women’s Raw, Master’s 45-49, all weight classes
No. 1 All Time: Women’s Raw, weight class, all ages
U.S. Powerlifting Association
No. 6 in 2020: Women’s Raw, Master 45-49, weight class
Ullman had a true eye-opening experience at the World Powerlifting Alliance (WPA) World Championships in September. Instead of competing in Montreal, Canada, regional locations were set up around the world due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. She competed in Martinsburg, West Virginia, at the Eastern Regional meet.
“Everyone competed over four days, and at the end they tallied up everything and announced the winners,” she says. “It was 10:30 Sunday night and I knew people were just finishing because of the competitions on the West Coast. I wasn’t expecting to see anything posted, but I got a message from the WPA president that I had won.”
At first, she thought it meant she had won her age group. “I was wrong,” she says.
“I won the women’s overall. I was speechless.”
In November, Ullman earned the Best Overall Female Lifter again at the American Powerlifting Association’s second annual Monsters Powerlifting Meet. She also set 10 world records that day.
How much more she can achieve is unclear.
“She was setting records the first time she competed,” Wolfe says. “It’s hard for me to imagine how much better she can get. Every time we talk and I think she might be close to slowing down, she just gets better. I don’t realistically know what her ceiling is right now.”