Story by Erik Potter

As a young teenager, Jordanne Panton tagged along to the gym with her mom and watched her try powerlifting for the first time. Her mom took to it. Panton looked around and saw other young people lifting, too. She wanted in.

Six years later, Panton is a two-time world record holder in the deadlift and a two-time all-around silver medalist in the International Powerlifting Federation world championship. She is also a sophomore at Mizzou studying health sciences with a goal of becoming a physical therapist.

In the background, Jordanne Pantone smiles and looks at something on the floor, off camera. In the foreground is a blurred piece of weightlifting equipment.
Jordanne Panton works her leg muscles at The Iron Fortress Gym. Photo by Sam O’Keefe

“It’s a really rewarding sport, and you just kind of get addicted,” Panton says of powerlifting. Other athletes might dread practice, but Panton loves going to the gym, where she spends three hours a day after classes and a nap and before studying.

Lifting has brought her closer to her mother, who shares her passion, and brought some of her best friendships.

She was working out at MizzouRec early in her freshman year when someone approached her and said she should join the Strength Club. The camaraderie has made her workouts more enjoyable — and her social life, too. One example, she says: “Last year I met the president of the Strength Club, and now he’s my boyfriend.”

Panton plans to pursue a doctorate in physical therapy — which was one of the reasons she chose Mizzou, because it has a high-quality program with high placement rates — and to continue to compete.

Twice she’s come up just short of her gold-medal dream.

“It would mean the world to me,” Panton says of winning the gold. “For six years now I’ve been working. It feels good every time you’re [on the podium], but if you win a gold medal, it’s just different.”

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