A native of Williamsville, NY, Cindy Wyatt may very well be one of the strongest two-sport athletes in the history of Western New York.
She began competing at 11 years of age in the local Junior Olympics and by 13 was winning the local AAU development meets. At 14 she won her first Junior (14-17 year olds) National title in both the shot put and discus and finished third in the javelin. She won the National Junior Division in shot put three times (1958-59, 1961) and discus twice (1958, 1961) and set four national age group records in the shot put. She was a member of six All-America track & field teams (1958-59, 1961-63). At 16 years of age, she placed fourth in the shot put at the 1960 Olympic trials.
In 1961, when the United States was trying to warm the COLD War with Russia, she qualified for the first USA team to compete against the Russians in Moscow. The team also competed in Germany, Poland and England. Cindy made the same tour in 1963 and 1965. She was the U.S. Indoor Champion in the shot put (1961, 1963). When she didn’t win, she was certainly in the hunt, placing second in shot put seven times in U.S. National Outdoor Championships (1961-66, ’74) and three times in the discus (1963, 1965-66), despite being outweighed by other competitors by nearly 100 pounds.
After graduating from Williamsville High School, she was given a scholarship to the University of Hawaii, only the third university in the country to offer an athletic scholarship to women. She represented the United States at the 1963 Pan-American Games in Sao Paulo, Brazil where she won a silver medal in shot and placed sixth in discus. She qualified for the 1964 U.S. Olympic team in shot put where she placed third at trials.
Cindy always used weight lifting to augment her track and field and at times would also compete as a guest lifter in men’s powerlifting meets. She was featured on the cover of the nationally known Strength and Health magazine. It was a time when few women were lifting weights, so it wasn’t surprising that she was recognized as a pioneer in women’s power lifting. Cindy won the Women’s National Powerlifting Championships from 1976-79 while establishing more than 20 world records, including 225 pounds for bench press, 385 for squat, 385 pounds for dead lift and the world record total of 985 pounds in the 165# class. She also became the first woman in the United States to earn an International Referee certification permitting her to judge world records in power lifting, and was the first chairperson of the women’s division of the International Powerlifting Federation.
Cindy has returned to competition as a Master athlete where she has won several titles in the shot, discus and hammer. She currently holds the American record in the Weight Throw Pentathlon and the Ultra Weight Pentathlon for 70-74 year olds.
Cindy was inducted into the inaugural class of the Niagara Track & Field Hall of Fame (1998) and in her honor, the Hall of Fame created the Cynthia J. Wyatt Award, which is presented annually to the outstanding female High School Athlete of the Year. Cindy is also an inductee of the USA Women’s Powerlifting Hall of Fame (2011) and the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame (1994).