Beth Terrill is strong in every sense of the word.
The 26-year-old Elmhurst resident took home three gold medals for power lifting Sunday at the Special Olympics regional games in Naperville, and will go onto the state competition this June in Bloomington.
Terrill has learning disabilities, but doesn’t let that slow her down — she works in the high school cafeteria in Hinsdale, and part-time walking dogs and doing lawn maintenance. And as an athlete, she already has one state gold medal this year in basketball.
Terrill lives independently, with a service dog, Coco, and a roommate, Suzanne Akers, who plays on the same soccer team.
"There’s some things I can’t do because of my disabilities, but in sports, I can do the same things that everybody else can,” she said.
Before the Special Olympics, she said she was more shy.
“I was more by myself, in my room,” she said. “But now I’m not shy, now I’m meeting new people and stuff from different teams.”
Soccer is her favorite, she said, because she likes the running, but powerlifting comes in second. She also plays volleyball, and would like to add softball, she said
Terrill started power lifting about four years ago when her basketball coach said she would probably be good at it.
She lifts one day a week with guidance from a coach at Courts Plus, building her strength.
At Sunday’s competition, she lifted 200 pounds in the deadlift competition to win the gold, she said, her most yet. In the deadlift competition, competitors lift the barbell from the ground to their waist, with feet spread shoulder-width apart.
Her other two gold medals came from the bench press competition and for cumulative score.
Terrill said she was inspired to get in shape by her sister, Morgan, and her brother-in-law, Imanol, a professional cyclist, who have two children.
“My niece and my nephew were born, and I said it’d be better to be healthy for them,” she said.
All in all, she finds inspiration in the Special Olympics motto: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."