Cushing High School senior proves she is the strongest link in p - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Cushing High School senior proves she is the strongest link in powerlifting world

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CUSHING, TX (KTRE) -

A Cushing High School senior is making a big impression in the powerlifting world.

Barely hovering at five feet tall, 18-year-old Kaitlain Link is proving that size doesn't matter when it comes to powerlifting.

"Everybody was like you know, how do you do that? You must be really strong," said Link.

In 2009, Link, who has just moved to Cushing from New Deal, Texas, was encouraged to join the power lifting team by the former Athletic Coach Glen Tunstall.

"Coach Tunstall looked at me and was like ‘you're really short and stubby. You'd be good at power lifting.' First I took it as an insult and then I was like ‘okay, I'll try it.' I tried it and really I just did it for fun, but I ended up being pretty good at it and went to state my freshman year so I was like ‘well, it's not bad,'" said Link.

Link then competed at the state level at the Texas High School Woman's Powerlifting Association placing fifth as a high school freshman. She later won the Bullard and Canton 1A Division Power lifting and won first place in the Class 1A state championship.

"When I first started I was in the little 97 pound and I really couldn't lift hardly anything, like I was real weak and just to think how much I couldn't lift compared to now, it's a huge difference," said Link.

Link says she is able to lift 720 pounds. Last year, Link got the opportunity to compete for the U.S. Team at the World Powerlifting Competition in Szcyrk, Poland.

She says she had to win first place in the state competition and national competition to gain access onto the team, but only won second place at national putting her as an alternate. But luck was on her side, and after another person dropped out of the competition, Link was placed onto the eight-member team.

"It's really exciting because just to think that I was one out of eight girls out of the whole United States to go especially one from a small town, you know? The rest of them were from like big cities," said Link.

Link is currently ranked fifth for her world ranking and second in the U.S. in her weight class.

"I didn't ever think I would be able to get this far in it, like freshman year I was like ‘oh, this is not very good' because compared to everyone else I wasn't lifting a lot, but I never really think of it as I only weighed 97 pounds compared to everyone else weighing a lot more, until I actually started competing and kept winning like win after win," said Link.

She said she had to raise $5,000 in a month for the trip to Poland and was able to do so with help from her school and the community. She says the feedback from everyone has been great.

"My mom loves it. She is constantly like ‘oh my gosh, you're going to win this time. You're going to do so good.' And my step-dad is just like ‘you're amazing.' They're just really excited and proud," said Link.

On May 18, Link will compete in the Women's National Competition in Orlando, Florida and will then travel to Lithuania on May 20 to compete in the World Bench Press Competition.

"I'm going there for the bench world meet and it's a four day meet, but I compete the first day," said Link.

This will be Link's first time to compete in the 114-pound weight class.

"I'm kind of nervous. I've never competed in this weight class before so I just hope I do my best and break my personal records," said Link.

Link has also broken the regional squat record three years in a row and broke it with 325 pounds last year.

"Breaking my records over and over again, like I broke the regional squat record three years in a row, so that makes me happy just to know that I have a chance to break it again," said Link.

Link will be attending Stephen F. Austin University in the fall to study nursing and is hoping to continue the family business in anesthesiology. She says powerlifting will be put on the back burner so she can focus on studying, but doesn't think this is the end of her power lifting career.

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