Date: 1st November 2013
Location: East Bergholt Sports Centre with the Suffolk Spartans
Rules: Male and Female athletes assume a position on a specially designed bench and, after taking or receiving the bar at arms length, the lifter shall wait with locked elbows for the referee's signal. After receiving the signal 'start', the lifter must lower the bar to the chest, hold it motionless (visible) on the chest and then press upwards, with an even extension of the arms, to arms-length with locked elbows. When held motionless in this position the audible signal 'rack' shall be given.
London 2012 Gold Medal Weights:: 106.0kg - 162.0kg
Ellie: When Sarah and I began this challenge we didn't expect to have time for extra events but we knew we'd take any opportunity that came our way and weightlifting has given me one of the greatest experiences so far. This project has posed many problems for me and the biggest has been capability. As many of you know, I was born with Bilateral Talipes Equinovarus, a lower limb deformity which has both affected me and not bothered me at all in almost equal measures throughout my life! I had scores of operations to manipulate and correct my feet and legs and these only stopped at the age of 16. Sport has always been one of the areas that I have found most frustrating as I have zero balance, leg strength and speed but a massive amount of desire to be able to do the same as my peers; and so this was a very important bonus event for me.
While learning Weightlifting, our coach Tom noticed how I was struggling with the necessary balance needed to complete the entire move. He probably also noticed how annoyed I felt about it! Tom then suggested something that without exaggeration, opened up sports for me a little bit - Benchpress. This is a sport that relies on you not using your legs at all in any traditional sense. It is easiest for those with good core muscles and upper body strength and I enjoyed it very much. On my first attempt I was able to Benchpress 30kg - a weight that Tom says he has never seen a female lifter press on their first attempt.
When we were invited to visit the Suffolk Spartans, where 2012 Paralympic Gold Medalist, Zoe Newson trained, we were both really excited and the experience was wonderful. With only a small set of equipment and limited space, this club trains a variety of people with a variety of impairments and the atmosphere was warm and supportive. We chatted to their members throughout the evening and then were invited to have a go ourselves. I am very proud to say that I achieved a new personal best of 31kg. It is safe to say that I will be returning to Powerlifting when our challenge is complete - it's top of my list!
Sarah: Why settle for 114 events when you could do 115?! It was a pleasure to be asked along to the Spartans training sessions, and try another event. We were really surprised that the club has just one bench, and such a small training area, but when the high costs of the equipment were explained to us, it all made sense. The Spartans are one of the three Paralympic powerlifting clubs in the country, and train 2012 bronze medal winner Zoe Newson, but they didn't receive a single penny of legacy funding, or even any legacy equipment. The dedication of the club owners, who also double up as the coaches, is inspiring. Having one bench does result in a brilliant atmosphere, with all the athletes cheering and heckling; spurring each other on to lift heavier weights, and being a real part of each others progress. On to the event, and I found this one really hard! My upper-body strength isn't brilliant, and I struggled to shift the weight after the pause on the chest. ..it was like trying to move a completely dead weight! My arms were wobbling all over the place, and it took every ounce of effort to try and get the bar stationary.
Ellie: We'd like to thank our coach Tom for all his help and the Suffolk Spartans who are a wonderful and welcoming club. If you would like any information on Talipes please visit the Steps website. Steps is a charity dedicated to supporting families affected by lower limb abnormalities and one that has meant a lot to me throughout my life!
London 2012 Bronze Medallist Zoe Newson powerlifting crazy weights in training: