A rookie powerlifter will carry the nation’s weight on her shoulders next week when she competes at the World Powerlifting Championships in Slovakia.
Nicola Ann Bennett from Auchenblae is representing Great Britain at the event, despite only taking up the sport last year.
She started attending the Asylum Gym in Laurencekirk last year as a way to keep fit and to give her something to focus on.
She said: “It was there I got the push and guidance to progress with weightlifting.
“I seemed to have a knack for it and I’ve been so lucky with the support I’ve had from the guys at the gym.”
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She said the powerlifting competition marked a change for her because she normally prefers to compete in Strong Woman events.
“They’re less about the weight you can lift and more about how quickly you can do it,” she said.
“Powerlifting is more intense, focusing on your strength and technique.
“You have three judges surrounding you from every angle, checking if your squat is deep enough, for example, or you’ve paused for long enough.”
Nicola has been working with Aberdeenshire-based food business Macphie since February and is delighted bosses there have stepped in with some sponsorship to help lighten the load.
She continued: “I was thrilled to qualify for the world championships but the cost of travelling to these events is high.
“I didn’t think I’d be able to afford the flights and accommodation until Macphie stepped in and offered to cover the cost.”
On top of her full-time position as storeperson Nicola trains five days a week for up to two hours.
She continued: “This week, I’m cutting out carbs and drinking a lot of water to make my weight category.
“Weigh-in is 24 hours before the competition starts so as soon as that’s done, I’ll be loading up on carbs and protein.”
Nicola travels to Slovakia this weekend with some of the other 73 members of Team Great Britain and will compete in the female heats on Monday.
On her return she will join her colleagues at STOMP – a charity fundraising race organised by the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) on October 26.
She has also qualified for the Arnold Sport Festival Strong Woman competition, which was originally started by Arnold Schwarzennegger, in Ohio in March 2020 and in May next year she intends to compete in Scotland’s Strongest Women in Motherwell.