It was very unusual for someone to begin bodybuilding at my age, but I thought my age was one bit of the challenge,” said Birath, who is now 51. “I think all people have preconceptions, like that bodybuilders are all stupid. I think I probably thought bodybuilders were a bit stupid, too.”
At that first tournament, Birath faced one other competitor in the heavyweight division and finished first. It was, she says now, a bit of a fluke, but it was enough to persuade her to commit to her training as an amateur bodybuilder.
She finished fourth last year at the Swedish national championships, and despite the fact that she is 10 or more years older than most of her competitors, she is one of the favorites to win this year’s event, Oct. 13-14 in Vasteras. As she accompanied her friend and training partner Irene Andersen to a professional tournament here in mid-September (the trips were paid for by a sponsor), she was already cutting down on her carbohydrates to prepare for the Swedish nationals.