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Supergirl from Quebec

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Out front: Corinne Pelletier female student winner of the 2018 Bermuda Strongman Competition (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Corinne Pelletier came to Bermuda two months ago looking to try new things — weightlifting wasn’t one of them.

Yet there she was on November 3, lifting a 250lb weight before an audience and winning the title in her category.

“I never thought of myself as strong,” said Corinne, a 17-year-old Rotary Exchange student from Cap-Saint-Ignace, Quebec.

“Pedro Lopes, another Rotary student, talked to me [into it].”

She’d never done much weightlifting, but signed up for the Bermuda Strongman Competition anyway.

To prepare, she trained for six weeks with Panzy Olander at Alchemy Fitness.

From the first session she could see that she’d underestimated her own strength.

“There was an activity where you had to push a sled, and I could do more than 45lbs,” she said. “That was really more than I thought I could do.”

The hardest thing for her was finding the time to do it.

Aside from her classes at Mount St Agnes, she’s on the school’s volleyball team and plays football.

“I also do some volunteer work,” she said. “I’ve helped a lady to decorate cupcakes, and I’ve packed school bags for poor children.”

In the end, she set aside time to train at Alchemy at least once a week.

“There were times when I wondered why I was doing this,” she admitted. “That was especially when training got intense.”

She was feeling much stronger when competition day rolled around.

Disappointment came when she discovered she was up against only one other girl, Eliza Olander. A third girl backed out just before the event.

“She didn’t think she could handle it,” Corinne said. “She regretted it afterward.

“I think that if more women were more involved in training and this sort of event, maybe more would realise that they are not that weak.”

She found the competition, at Bulls Head Car Park, challenging and fun.

Judges had her pull a sled with 75lb weights for 50 metres, carry a 250lb weight for 50 metres and flip a 150lb tyre for 50 metres.

“There was a really good vibe,” she said. When Corinne was named the winner in the Female Student Category, she called her family in Quebec to tell them the news.

They were happy for her, but not surprised.

“They said, ‘Oh, we always told you, you were strong’,” she laughed. “They said, ‘You should do more of it’.”

Now that it’s all over, she’s considering continuing her training.

“That wasn’t something I would normally go for, but it made me change my perspective,” she said.

“I thought it was just for getting big muscles, but then I found a satisfaction in it.

“I was proud of myself and the improvement I made.”

Corrine is the third in her family to come to Bermuda for Rotary Exchange.

Her sister Sandrine, 20, and brother Edward, 19, have also been here.

The island was “bigger than [she] expected”.

“The landscape is so pretty here,” she said. “I love that while here, I can just drive to the beach on my bike after school.

“I love the temperature and I love how everyone says hello on the street.”

Her favourite moment so far has been getting pizza with her host, Laura Settatree, and her family, and watching the sunset on the beach.

“That was a small thing, but for me it was amazing,” she said.

Once the school year is done she plans to go on to university.

“I’m not sure yet what I plan to study,” she said. “I have to figure that out. I like maths.

“I like sports, I like travelling. I love languages.

“Maybe I’ll do something around those interests.”

Her hope is to one day join a Rotary club.

“We had a night at Tobacco Bay the other day,” she said. “There Rotary alumni talked about what they’d gotten out of the exchange programme.

“It really made me want to give back to Rotary one day.”

For the satisfaction of it: Corinne Pelletier female student winner of the 2018 Bermuda Strongman Competition (Photograph by Akil Simmons)