Executive Assistant to the President Sue O’Connell weighs in on her CrossFit powerlifting records, and what it’s like to work for our much-loved George Iwama.

You have an amazing ability that not many people at Quest know about.

I’ve been going to CrossFit Squamish for about four and a half years. Two and a half years ago, they wanted to record the number of women who could deadlift over 300 lbs. I remember thinking how amazing that was and how I really wanted to be part of that club. My deadlift at that time was 245 lbs and 300 lbs seemed very far away, but I started to chip away at it.

Last summer, I signed up for a powerlifting meet in Vernon. My deadlift was at 290 lbs and it was just the push I needed! A few members of CrossFit Squamish/Squamish Barbell were going to volunteer at the event. I convinced a few friends to sign up for the meet too, and then made the switch from the CrossFit programming to the powerlifting programming at the end of August. I made it to the 300 lbs club at that meet, lifting 304 lbs! I have continued with the powerlifting programming ever since. I train five, sometimes six, days a week!

Wow! You’re so dedicated. And you just had great results at the Squamish CrossFit competition!

It was so great to be able to attend a competition that was on home soil. The meet was sanctioned by the 100% RAW Powerlifting Federation. I performed nine lifts in total, three back squats, three bench presses, and three deadlifts. I set a new personal record for my back squat at 209 lbs! I also set a new personal record for deadlift at 314 lbs. It was a great day!

There were so many amazing men and women lifting. Lots of provincial, national, and world records were broken. Three women from my gym broke world records–how cool is that!?

CrossFit seems to be taking over the fitness world. Why do you enjoy it so much?

What I really like about CrossFit is it has encouraged so many people to improve their fitness and health, no matter what age or ability. I really love CrossFit Squamish/Squamish Barbell, as it’s much more than just fitness. The community is amazing, and I have made some great friends. Nobody cares what level of fitness you’re at. They care that you’re there and doing what you can.

You’re originally from Ireland—a long way from home! What brought you to Squamish?

Mountain biking! The Sea to Sky Corridor is known to be the best place in the world for biking. It’s absolutely beautiful. We are so lucky to live here!

As the Executive Assistant to the President, you get to work closely with George. Tell us what that’s like.

My day includes managing George’s calendar and performing administrative duties for him, the Executive, and the Board of Governors. My favourite thing about working with George is a hard question because it’s not just one favourite thing. He is encouraging, honest and inspiring. He truly cares about the whole Quest community!

One last thing. If you were a Quest student, what would your Question be?

Probably something along the lines of, “Is our food packaging as safe as we think it is?” I have a bachelor’s degree in Food Science and Technology, so I am really interested in this type of research.

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