There's nothing better than affecting people through sport.

Daniel Worthington, Coach
Soccer Nova Scotia

Lee Ann Dalling

Lee Ann
Athletes come in all shapes and sizes

If you were walking through a crowded room, and out of the corner of your eye you happened to catch a quick glimpse of Lee Ann Dalling, you’d see an athletic profile. Chances are however, that Lee Ann wouldn’t remain in your peripheral vision for long, because moments later the petite 117 lb. woman would command your attention as she hoisted 212 lbs. over her head.

In that moment, you’d see a true athlete dedicated to her sport. You’d see an inspiring feat of physicality that would leave your jaw gaping and your head spinning.

What you wouldn’t see, is a woman with a disability.

This is exactly the reaction that Lee Ann has worked so hard to evoke.  

“Sport has provided a means to break the stereotypes that exist towards persons with disabilities,” says Lee Ann. “You can literally see the transformation in people when I load the bar and make the lift. People are amazed. They no longer see me as a person with a disability. They see me as an athlete.”

Lee Ann has devoted her life to pushing limits and pummeling her opponents’ expectations.

She was born in the community of New Glasgow, and upon birth her doctor and parents immediately recognized that Lee Ann would face some challenges.

“I was born disabled as a result of Thalidomide,” she says. “I have shortened femurs, no hip sockets, three fused wrist bones in each hand and both thumbs on each hand are actually fingers and not thumbs.”

Thalidomide was a common anti-nauseadrug that was prescribed to pregnant women in the late 50's. It was eventually discovered that the drug had devastating side effects, but by that time 10,000 children had already been affected, including Dalling.

Although she is classified as physically disabled, she doesn’t accept that description. Throughout her 18-year athletic career, Lee Ann has always competed against able-bodied opponents. She has gone up against the best in the world and come back victorious.

Lee Ann is a global icon in the world of women’s benchpressing. She is a seventeen-time world qualifier and competitor. Her most recent victory took place in March 2010, where she competed at the 2010 World Benchpress Championships in Orlando, Florida and took home the silver medal for Canada.

This marks Lee Ann’s sixth world medal, including one gold, three silver and two bronze. During Nationals in Quebec she also received an Outstanding Lifter Award and a Katana samurai sword as a symbol of strength and power.

“I have received a lot of trophies, cups, plaques and medals over the years, but this is by far the nicest and most unique prize I’ve ever received,” she said. The award is one of the sport’s highest honors and Lee Ann was one of only six benchpressers to receive the tribute.

Remaining competitive at a world level after 18 years of benchpressing is incredibly rare. It requires intense focus and dedication; but luckily for Dalling, she’s never struggled in those areas.

“I am a very motivated and driven individual,” says Lee Ann. “I’ve had to, to be a world ranked lifter.”

Lee Ann believes that her motivation comes from within and she is determined not only to overcome obstacles, but to be the best at what she does.

“As a person with a disability, I have had to work very hard to achieve success in education, employment and sport. I continue to set and achieve new benchmark standards and sport has allowed me to remain healthy while many Thalidomide survivors are suffering from muscle and joint deterioration.”

Lee Ann has overcome every psychical challenge she’s faced, but like many athletes, her success in sport has brought new challenges. Benchpressing isn’t classified as an Olympic sport, therefore funding options are limited. With financial assistance from the Support4Sport program, Lee Ann has been able to concentrate on her training and worry less about funding.

Support4Sport has allowed me to offset the costs of representing Canada at World Benchpress Championships without incurring a huge debt load. It has also allowed me to bring home six world championship medals for our country,” she says.

Lee Ann has spent 17 years at the top of her game, and she has no plans of stopping yet.

“Sport has given me confidence, self-esteem and courage. It has allowed me to lead a very happy, busy and productive life,” she says.

Lee Ann's inspiring story proves without a doubt that individuals are free to set their own limits, and that physical disabilities don’t determine one’s ability.


New Glasgow, NS
45° 35' 13.3944" N, 62° 38' 29.904" W


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