Miel McGerrigle Wynne, co-coach of the Olympic Weightlifting team at UTM, is one of the most accomplished athletes to come out of our university. From her various medals received at competitions, her relentless training ethic, and humble personality, it is a wonder how UTM snatched up such an icon in the world of female Olympic Weightlifting. She attended UTM for her undergraduate studies and completed a double major in French literature and French linguistics with a minor in history before attending Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. McGerrigle Wynne now practices as a business lawyer for the Region of Peel. She is also an international referee for weightlifting.
McGerrigle Wynne is native to Vancouver but moved to Ontario at the age of 18 to study at UTM. A lot of what influenced her decision to study at UTM was the weightlifting program we have here. Her weightlifting coach at the time moved to Oakville with his family and she followed suit. During her first year at UTM, she lived with her coach and his family. Her routine mainly consisted of school, home, and training. However, in her second year she decided to live on campus and found this much easier. McGerrigle Wynne was working at the “Fit Stop,” which is the RAWC today. Living on campus allowed her to be able to train more which she really enjoyed.
Beginning as a gymnast for 10 years, McGerrigle Wynne explains that one day a weightlifting coach came into her club looking for women who wanted to retire gymnastics and start a new sport—weightlifting. She says, “At that time, women’s weightlifting was not in the Olympics. And [the coach] said that one day it will be and that I could possibly go.” She continues, “That was my dream, as a gymnast, to go to the Olympics. But I didn’t get that far. I competed within the province.” McGerrigle Wynne decided to make the bold move and take up weightlifting. For about six months, she was doing both gymnastics and weightlifting. She humbly admits to being pretty successful at weightlifting right away, owing much of it to her background in gymnastics which allowed her to get the technique down quickly. “[With weightlifting] everyone thinks of lifting heavy weight. It’s not just that. There’s a lot of technique involved and I’ve heard some people say it’s gymnastics with weight,” says McGerrigle Wynne. This transition process definitely had its challenges, going from an all-female gymnastics club to a predominately male weightlifting club. She admits to missing gymnastics during the transition phase and said it was difficult to get used to the routine of doing a set and then resting before doing another one. With gymnastics, there were no breaks it was more continual.
McGerrigle Wynne began training as a weightlifter in 1994, and in 1995 she attended the first ever Junior World Championships that had women’s Olympic Weightlifting. This took place in Warsaw, Poland and she received a silver medal in the clean and jerk lift, and came fourth overall in her weight class. An amazing accomplishment for only training in the sport for one year. McGerrigle Wynne was a member of the Canadian national team for Olympic Weightlifting for a number of years. She began as Junior National and moved to Senior National as she got older. In 1999, she competed in the first ever Pan Am Games that had women’s weightlifting. The Games took place in Winnipeg and she won the entire competition. She returned to the Pan Am Games in 2003 where she placed fifth overall. In 2006, she competed in Melbourne, Australia for the Commonwealth Games where she received a bronze medal. She also attended the Junior World Championships where she received a silver medal in the clean and jerk. She also competed in the first World University Championships held in Tel Aviv, Israel. McGerrigle Wynne has also competed in many other World Championships.
Weightlifting has also given McGerrigle Wynne the opportunity to travel and see so many wonderful places that may not have been visited otherwise. “It’s been a great opportunity for me…I’ve gone all over the world,” she says. Starting from 1995 until about 2008, some places she has competed in include, Poland, South Africa, Israel, France, Greece, Finland, Australia, Dominican Republic, various places in the USA and Canada, including the Yukon.
McGerrigle Wynne had a couple of injuries during her years as an Olympic weightlifter. Her first injury happened in 2003 at the Western Canadian Championships in Edmonton. “At that time, the lift I did was a Canadian record, so it was okay,” she chuckles. She snatched 92.5 kilos and that set the Canadian record for the time. It has since been broken, but she says, “It was great because it was not just a Canadian record, but it was a record for me as well.” As she did the lift, however, she tore her labrum. She explains that she was still able to lift it over her head and was unsure what happened. After completing the snatch, she still had to complete her clean and jerk. Being the relentless athlete she is, McGerrigle Wynne popped a couple Advil and went out to complete the clean and jerk. The Olympics were happening less than a year after tearing her labrum, where she was an alternate. Because of this, she decided to prolong her surgery date for September—when the Olympics were over. Despite the pain she was in, she worked hard to strengthen her shoulder and continue training in case she was given the opportunity to compete at the Olympics. Even after her surgery though, she was able to recover quickly.
The second injury McGerrigle Wynne endured was near the end of her weightlifting career. She injured her knee during an exercise and had to have surgery to repair it. She does admit that this was one of the factors of her retiring weightlifting.
Towards the tail end of her weightlifting career, McGerrigle Wynne met fellow co-coach, Darren Turner. At this point, she was not competing at the national level, but she was still continuing to train at UTM. When she first began coaching, she was only coaching one athlete while training at the same time. McGerrigle Wynne admits to really enjoying it and soon after, Turner asked her to assist him with coaching the Olympic Weightlifting team at UTM. She says: “I really enjoy coaching, you see a different side of things. You’re not the athlete lifting the bar so, you have a little bit less control over what’s happening but it’s very interesting dealing with different types of people. Every athlete has their own kind of character and they have different focuses. So it’s interesting dealing with all the different athletes that come in here.” She has been coaching for roughly six years now.
McGerrigle Wynne commends weightlifting not just from an athletic standpoint, but for the overall benefits that people receive from lifting weights. Almost every Varsity team at UTM engages in weight training to improve their overall performance, as both a team and as individual players.
UTM is fortunate to have Miel McGerrigle Wynne’s success and skills with the sport of Olympic Weightlifting. She’s a successful female athlete who guides other athletes through their long and rewarding weightlifting journey.