A Dundee mum is gearing up to compete in a series of global strongest woman competitions – despite suffering from a serious brain condition.
Izzy Tait, 41, says her passion for the sport has helped her escape the “dark place” she was in after her diagnosis.
The mum-of-four, who only discovered the world of strongwoman training in 2019, suffers from brain separation syndrome and epilepsy as a result of the injury she sustained on a night out in 2015.
Paralysed on right side
But despite experiencing bouts of temporary paralysis, as well as frequent blackouts and seizures, she has managed to forge a successful career as a strongwoman competitor.
Izzy, who holds Scotland’s deadlift and atlas stone record, was left paralysed on her right side following the incident.
She says her recovery has been accelerated by strength training, which has given her a new lease of life and helped her to manage her symptoms.
She said: “I was in a really dark place before. I had depression and anxiety and I was under a psychologist and things like that – I couldn’t leave the house.
“The strongwoman training has helped me overcome all that and now I’m so much more confident and so much happier.
“It’s made me physically and mentally stronger.
“You have to have quite a good mental strength to do it. The training for it is quite vigorous. The events are really quite gruelling.
“Obviously managing that along with my condition can be quite difficult at times as well, but I just do what I can and plod on.”
In January, Izzy suffered a “really bad” relapse of her brain condition, which left her unable to walk for three weeks.
But she didn’t let it stop her from pursuing her goals – and just days after getting back on her feet she was hitting the gym.
Izzy has come a long way since her first charity competition three years ago.
Currently, she is preparing to take part in a stone lifting competition in Norway in July and to compete for the second time in Britain’s Strongest Woman in August.
She is also hoping to qualify for World’s Strongest Woman for the first time, when it takes place in Ohio in November.
Izzy trains about four times a week for three hours at a time and can deadlift 252kg as well as lift 140kg stones.
She says female competitors still face many “barriers” in the sport.
She said: “There’s still such a long way to go.
‘I get called a man’
“Obviously World’s Strongest Man is on TV every December. It’s a huge thing. But you’ll never ever get to see the women’s side of it.
“The guys get paid so much for it, whereas we don’t get anything really. We get a little trophy and that’s about it.”
But she says things are “moving in the right direction”, with the UK’s Strongest Women competition “starting to get the recognition that it deserves”.
The contest was televised for the first time this year.
Izzy has also had to contend with abusive comments from people on social media.
She said: “I get called a man.
“People ask me, ‘Why would you want to do that? Why would you put your body through that? Why do you want to have muscles like that? That’s a men’s sport, you shouldn’t be doing it’.
“I’m like, ‘Well, because I can’.”
Kids are ‘biggest motivation’
But she says the comments just make her more determined to make her kids proud.
Izzy is mum to Conor, 23, Keiran, 21, Kyla, 14, and Sophie, nine.
She said: “My kids are hugely supportive – they all love what I do.
“I thought the boys would maybe have a bit of an issue with it. But they absolutely love it. They come to my comps – they’re my absolute top supporters.
“They’re my biggest motivation.”