Karen Skalvoll Sets Deadlift World Record Despite Terminal Illness

There were more than a handful of records broken at this year’s Arnold Classic. For example, Ray Williams claimed the highest raw squat, while Blaine Sumner squatted the most ever in a single-ply suit. There’s no denying that these are insane feats of strength, but there’s one record that I feel needs a little more attention.

Norwegian strength athlete Karen Skalvoll’s deadlifted 125kg to set the new world record in the disabled strongman female standing division.

This year’s Arnold Classic made history and held its first ever disabled strongman competition. NBC4 Columbus did a new’s report on Skolvall before she competed. They referenced how Skalvoll talked about some people didn’t think she would make it to 45-years old. Yet, here she is competing at the first ever Arnold Classic Disabled Strongman competition.

Skalvoll has a terminal illness, called Alpha-1 Antitrypsin deficiency. This is an inherited lung condition that increases one’s chances for developing lung and liver disease, while also requiring the use of constant oxygen therapy.

From her above photo’s description, it’s easy to see how much this world record meant to Skalvoll.

The deep impressions of Sunday has started to settle in. To get the honor of competing in the very first Arnold Disabled Strongman Competition and to be the very first athlete competing at the Arnold under oxygen therapy humbles me. Meeting the strongest disabled athletes in the world and compete side by side of these amazingly strong lads is a treat. To be treated equal, as strongmankind and not like a girl means so much. A thank you to you all lads, you are my heroes!

To add to Skalvoll’s impressiveness, she also recently qualified for the Norwegian Powerlifting Nationals held in April for the master’s class. This feat made her the first ever athlete to qualify while using oxygen therapy in an able-bodied competition.

It’s athletes like Skalvoll who help push the industry and strength sports in the right direction. For example, below is a video of her log clean and pressing, while on oxygen therapy.

If you don’t follow her on Instagram, then you’re missing out. To me, this is what strength competitions are really about, which is connecting athletes and hitting personal victories.

It’s going to be exciting watching and following Skalvoll as she preps and competes in the Norwegian powerlifting nationals this April.

Feature image from @alpha_1_athlete Instagram page. 

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Jake holds a Master's in Sports Science and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Jake serves as one of the full time writers and editors at BarBend. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and has spoken at state conferences on the topics of writing in the fitness industry and building a brand. As of right now, Jake has published over 1,100 articles related to strength athletes and sports. Articles about powerlifting concepts, advanced strength & conditioning methods, and topics that sit atop a strong science foundation are Jake's bread-and-butter. On top of his personal writing, Jake edits and plans content for 15 writers and strength coaches who come from every strength sport.Prior to BarBend, Jake worked for two years as a strength and conditioning coach for hockey and lacrosse players, and was a writer at the Vitamin Shoppe's corporate office. Jake regularly competes in powerlifting in the 181 lb weight class, and considers himself a weightlifting shoe sneaker head. On the side of writing full time, Jake works as a part-time strength coach and works with clients through his personal business Concrete Athletics in Hoboken and New York City.