A newly-minted Canadian citizen in Halifax says she's excited to be representing her new country at the powerlifting world championships in South Africa this June.

Eileen Du Plooy works as a fitness trainer for the military. A year and a half ago, she told a co-worker she wanted to try powerlifting — a form of competitive weightlifting in which athletes squat, bench press and deadlift in a set sequence.

"We put some weights on the bar and he started chuckling at me and after the second lift he was like, 'You just broke national records in the gym without even trying,'" said Du Plooy.

In the short time since, she has shattered six powerlifting records provincially and nationally. The South African native moved to Nova Scotia a few years ago and just recently got her Canadian citizenship.

She's now training for the IPF Classic Powerlifting World Championships, which will be held in Johannesburg between June 1 and June 8.

Du Plooy said she usually lifts about 160 kilograms — or 350 pounds — at any given practice.

"If you take a Harley-Davidson Sportster and you put a 200-pound man on it, that's how much I'll be lifting in three consecutive lifts," she said.

Brian George, her coach, has been powerlifting for 17 years.

"Just her drive and her attitude will make her a legend in this sport. To get top 10 at worlds is an incredible feat your first time there," he said.

This year, George and his athlete are aiming for the top five. "Maybe even the podium," he said.

Du Plooy said the sport is becoming more popular with women.

"Everybody in powerlifting calls each other family and it's really the sportsmanship of it that really motivated me to continue in it," she said.