Lya Bavoil rang in her 26th birthday the best way she knew how.

By Faith Brar
January 21, 2020

French powerlifter Prescillia (Lya) Bavoil has been making some serious waves in the powerlifting world since she started competing in 2017. She's currently the International Powerlifting Federation European Champion in the 140-pound weight class. On top of that, she holds two world records in the squat (425 pounds) and in the total weight lifted in the squat, bench, and deadlift categories during a competition (1,133 pounds), according to BarBend.

Given her quick success in powerlifting, it's safe to say that Bavoil is all about setting goals and crushing them. Following the European Championships in early December last year, the 26-year-old decided to test her limits to the max. She set a new goal of squatting 200 kilograms (or 440 pounds) by her birthday on December 22. And she did just that. (Related: This Woman Swapped Cheerleading for Powerlifting and Found Her Strongest Self Ever)

"All I want for my birthday is a 200 kg/440 lbs squat with my crew," she wrote alongside a video of herself on Instagram on her birthday.

In the video, Bavoil is surrounded by her friends and coaches, who can be heard cheering her on as she attempts the squat. In perfect form, Bavoil completes the 440-pound squat, making it look easy, no less. She can be heard screaming with excitement afterward while her supporters celebrate her success. (Get more powerlifting inspo from Instagram sensation @megsquats.)

"Lifting 200 kg on squat was a huge goal of mine," Bavoil tells Shape. "I was happy to be able to end 2019 reaching that goal with the support of my friends."

Even though she was in training (rather than in competition), Bavoil technically broke the world record by a whopping 15 pounds. But to her, that's not that big of a deal, she says. "To be honest, I don't feel much in regards to [this] squat [in relation] to the world record," she explains. "It was just a personal goal that I could use to push myself. I was just happy to reach my goal and my dream." (Related: Powerlifting Healed This Woman's Injury—Then She Became A World Champion)

When it comes to records, Bavoil feels that no one really "owns" them, she shares. "They are made to be broken," she adds. "I am motivated by pushing my limits and making what I thought was impossible, possible."

When Bavoil started powerlifting in 2017, she had no idea what her limits actually were. She only started weight lifting with the intention to "get fit," but she quickly discovered she was strong for a beginner and loved lifting heavy, she says. "A coach saw potential in me and suggested I enter my first powerlifting competition," she tells us. "The rest is history." (Related: Watch This Powerlifter Deadlift 3 Times Her Body Weight Like It's NBD)

Since she started competing, Bavoil has been in five tournaments, according to BarBend. She's placed in all five, winning two gold medals, a silver, bronze, and then gold again in the 2019 European Championships.

Looking ahead, Bavoil has her eyes on the World Championships, she says. "Winning the European Championships was a major accomplishment for me," she shares. "Next, I would like to win a world championship at least once in my career. Beyond that, I would just like to see how far I can push my squat, bench, deadlift, and total." (Related: Beyond Awesome Benefits of Olympic Weightlifting)

Bavoil hopes that her story inspires women to embrace their strength and to not be afraid to push themselves in the gym, she tells Shape. "I don't think women should be shy about being strong or powerful," she says. "There is still a misconception that lifting weights might make you look manly. This just isn't true. We can keep our femininity while being as strong as men. And as far as I'm concerned, I think strong is the new sexy."

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January 29, 2020
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