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Powerlifting couple celebrate World Championship success


December 10 2016

A record-breaking powerlifting couple celebrated world championship success just months after they married and began studying together at university.

Britain’s Emma Ylitalo James scooped two world records and her Finnish husband Kalle one world title at the 2015 World Powerlifting Championships in Maia, Portugal.

Emma’s first title came as she lifted 200kg in the 75kg single-ply weight class of the bench press competition, followed by a lift of 191kg in the multi-ply bench press 82.5kg weight class.

Kalle’s success came with a lift of 300kg in the men’s multi-ply bench press 125kg weight class.

The couple, who competed for their respective nations, married in Finland in June before Kalle moved to the UK to join Emma at home and at Glyndŵr University.

Emma is studying psychology, with Kalle currently approaching the end of his first semester studying English at the Wrexham institution.

The feat is all the more remarkable for Emma, who had an operation to treat a pituitary lesion only last December.

Emma, who is also president of the British Powerlifting Union, said: “I was worried about being able to reach the same level I was at before after the operation so to break two world records within a year is amazing really.

“We took a team of 60 powerlifters ranging from 15 to 75 years old to the competition, the largest squad ever for a British team.”

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As well as claiming seven world, 15 European and 23 British titles during a distinguished powerlifting career, Emma is a performance therapist and lecturer who is currently on contract with British Airways and Volvo.

She joined Glyndŵr University in order to expand her knowledge and gain formal qualifications, with the goal of building a career in clinical neuropsychology.

“The university has been fantastic,” said Emma. “They’ve been very supportive with my studies and understanding whenever I’ve needed to compete or train, so I’ve been able to maintain my commitments in powerlifting alongside studying.”

Kalle’s background is in acting and events, working as an MC. He said: “I was a bit worried about how my English would cope in an academic environment but it’s been really easy to come and study here – I’ve been made to feel very welcome.”

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