LESS than a year after taking up weightlifting student Sarah Davies – reigning Miss Leeds and Miss England entrant – secured a medal at the recent British Championships in Derby.
The 19-year-old, who is a PE teaching student at Leeds Met University, is just one of many young women who are breaking the stereotypes of female weightlifters and bringing a touch of glamour to the platform.
BWL News caught up with Sarah to find out more.
How long have you been weightlifting for?
I started in September so about 10 months so not very long really, I got 3rd in the British Championships 2012 so I can’t complain really!
How do you feel your progression is going?
Really happy, I didn’t expect to progress so fast, I used to do gymnastics as a kid so the natural flexibility and strength have always been something that I’ve had so that’s helped me.
What made you want to start weightlifting?
My boyfriend got me down the gym, he said “you’re a gymnast and gymnasts are usually good at it” so I had a go and I was alright and I’m one of those people where success makes me want to strive to be even better.
What are your most favourite and least favourite aspects of training?
I don’t like front squats at all, they’re my weakness. Squats generally are a weakness in my training so I need to work on them. I like the snatch, everyone says I lift like my boyfriend and he coaches me. A lot of people said that after the last competition.
When was your first competition, how did it feel?
December just gone at the Central and South West Open at Oldbury Academy, I think I came first. I snatched 48kg and clean and jerked 53kg after 3 months of training so I was happy. I was nervous for my snatch lifts but once they were out of the way I got into it a bit more. Having done gymnastics since I was 7 years old, I don’t find competition that scary. I’m used to being out there on my own rather than in a team sport where you have all your players around you. I thrive off the adrenaline so it was good I really enjoyed it, I loved being back on a competitive stage because it was like I’d had something missing for about 4 years and it’s filled that gap.
As a progressing athlete, what do you think are the most important qualities in someone who is striving to be the best they can be?
I think the commitment and dedication to training have paid off for me and my competition results have almost doubled since I started so real dedication to training because if you don’t train then you’re not going to perform very well in competition.
Do you remember what your first thought of weightlifting was?
It was never really a sport I’d considered before, doing gymnastics it’s all about looking pretty and dancing around on the floor and weightlifting is not about that. I guess initially I had that stereotype that everyone else has about the women that do weightlifting. The girls we have taking part in weightlifting in England are very girly.
Do you take part in any other sport?
Yeah I did gymnastics and played golf to county standard for Lancashire girls. I used to do a bit of Latin American dancing and cheerleading and I’m training to be a PE teacher so I dabble in games so I’m pretty active.
You recently won Miss Leeds, how did you get involved with that?
I worked at a bar in Headingley and Leeds Guide, a magazine that used to come out in Leeds, had a big advert for it and the other bar staff encouraged me to enter it. I thought “oh no that’s not me; it’s not my thing” but they kept on so I put in an entry to keep them happy. I got to the auditions and went through to the final 30 girls out of over 100 who had applied from across Leeds. The whole day I was there I wasn’t expecting to win I was just there for a bit of a laugh really, I met some really nice other girls. There were a lot of girls there that didn’t look like stereotypical beauty queens. I got down to the final 15 and they did questions and stuff and then 3rd and 2nd were called and I thought” oh that’s me out of it” and then they called my name and I was like “that’s not right ha ha!”. You have a number on your wrist and they call out the number, when they called 17 I was like “that’s me!” It was good I didn’t expect it! Miss England is at the end of this month, I leave a week on Saturday for that. There are loads of rounds of competition for it, it’s not the world peace and bikini rounds like it used to be. I think it’s mainly based around girls who want to have modelling careers I guess and that’s never really been an interest of mine; I want to be a PE teacher as a career. There’s a catwalk round, a fitness round and loads of others, one is a charity round so the girl who raises the most money and each girl that wins a round gets fast tracked to the final 15 and a bit closer to becoming Miss England. The winner goes to Mauritius to the shopping fiesta, they are the sponsor of this year’s event and the girl who gets the most publicity for them gets fast tracked to the final also!
Did you tell the other girls in the competition about your weightlifting?
Yeah as part of the Miss Leeds final there’s a talent round as well so I took the training bar and weights to the final and talked to people about weightlifting and explained that was my talent. It was good because it got the audience engaged as it was something that most of them didn’t know about. For the Miss England final you send off a DVD and it's 2mins long so I’ve put in footage of my gymnastics and golf and some footage from lifting competitions and stuff. I think it’s (weightlifting) one of the reasons I won Miss Leeds because I stood out the judges said it was different.
In terms of your weightlifting what’s your next goal?
I’d love to go to the European Juniors in November, I think to get an international in with just over a year of training is something special really and the weights are still going up so hopefully I’ll qualify towards the end of year and get to go which would be amazing!