72-Year-Old Woman Has 19 Consecutive Bench Press World Champion Titles, Is Going for 20

Chiyomi Sawa, a 72-year-old woman from Japan has been the undisputed World Masters Women’s Bench Press Champion for the last 19 years, and she doesn’t plan to stop dominating anytime soon.

Walking past Chiyomi Sawa on the street, you’d be forgiven for mistaking her for just a petite, slightly overweight pensioner, but in reality, she is a natural-born athlete with her sights set on her 20th consecutive world bench press champion title. Ever since she started competing at the highest level, in 2006, Sawa has dominated the world championship, winning first place at every edition, in different weight classes. The 72-year-old is now eyeing champion title number 20, and judging by her track record, she’ll most likely claim it.

Photo: Victor Freitas/Unsplash

Chiyomi Sawa practiced various sports growing up, and developed a particular interest in softball. She continued to play even after giving birth to her two children but was eventually forced to give it up after starting work as a pre-school lunch lady in her mid-20s.

Sport stopped being a part of Sawa’s everyday life until her late 40s, when the results of her annual health check-up informed her that she had become overweight. The tae-bo craze had just hit Japan around that time, and the woman decided to give it a try.

As she was working on getting rid of excess weight, Chiyomi Sawa also incorporated weight exercises in her routine, and one day, her trainer asked her if she wanted to give bench press exercises a try. Up to that point, she had always considered bench presses to be exclusively for men, but at the insistence of the trainer, she agreed to give it a try.

On her first try, a 49-year-old Chyiomi managed to bench 50 kilograms (110 pounds) on her first try, leaving everyone in the gym, including her trainer, stunned. The praise she received encouraged her to keep training, and before long she was ready to compete on the world stage.

Chiyomi Sawa has been compared to wine, as she has only gotten better with age. After retiring from her job, she was able to focus more on her training, which allowed her to defeat competitors half her age at the world bench press championship over the years.

Even though the 72-year-old has said that she might retire after claiming her 20th title, she also went on record during her 50s as saying that she would only lift until she reached 60. That was over a decade ago, so who knows what the future holds for this amazing woman!


Chiyomi Sawa’s dominance in an international competition seems a bit hard to believe. I couldn’t believe it myself after reading her story on SoraNews24.After all, 19 consecutive titles is a lot, and 72 isn’t exactly young, but her record checks out. You can check her results yourself on Goodlift.