Super-sporty teenager Lucy Robinson has been chosen to represent Team GB at the World Powerlifting Championships. Becky Bond meets her.
“If you’d told me two years ago that I’d be powerlifting for Great Britain in the World Championships I’d have said ‘don’t be silly’. I didn’t even really know what powerlifting was.”
But in June this year, Lucy Robinson, 15, is heading to Belarus to represent Team GB in the Classic Sub-Junior section of the World Championships – and she’s already on track for some personal bests.
“My friends think it’s bizarre because it’s not a very well-known sport,” says Lucy.
“It’s pretty niche for teenage girls and I’ve only been doing it just over year, but everyone’s really supportive.”
A successful diver, in February last year, Lucy was training for a diving competition.
Part of her preparation involved strength and conditioning exercises at the gym and it was during one of these sessions that her powerlifting potential was spotted.
Lucy’s dad Tim, received a phone call from her coach, Chris Baldwin.
“Chris told me that Lucy was amazingly strong for someone of her age and he asked me if he could work with her – free of charge – to see if she would be interested in the sport,” recalls Tim.
“Chris is a powerlifter at British level himself, so he obviously knew what he was talking about. And that’s how it all began.”
Every competition Lucy has entered to get to this stage has seen her break records.
In her first, The Yorkshire North East Classic Powerlifting Championships, in July 2016, Lucy broke all the Sub-Junior records there and then.
She went on to the British Powerlifting Championships, held at Ashington Working Men’s Club, where she became the Sub-Junior British Champion across all three categories (squat, deadlift and bench press).
Off the back of that, she was selected to go to an assessment centre in Northampton to meet the British coaches, where she was chosen to lift for Great Britain.
Chris now works with Lucy three times a week on a very specific, tailored programme.
Exercises are chosen to gradually build up her strength and ability, with the overall goal of getting her to world class standard before she reaches the age of 18.
So far, the training is paying off because in March this year, Lucy travelled from her West Yorkshire home to Denmark for the European Classic Powerlifting Championships and brought home a clutch of medals and more smashed records for Great Britain.
Categories are based on age and weight. The majority of girls in Lucy’s category are about two years older than her and so have more training and experience.
“Everyone is really surprised when I tell them I’m only 15,” says Lucy.
“It’s great for me because if I can maintain this weight and stay in this category, then I can only get better.
“I’m not like some competitors you see though, who go to extremes to keep weight off. I can resist a chocolate bar a few weeks before a big lift, but I could still be growing and would rather be healthy and happy.”
A sentiment echoed by Lucy’s proud parents, Tim and Moira.
“Lucy is at the level now, where we could get a knock on the door at three in the morning and she could be randomly drug tested,” says dad, Tim.
“There’s obviously nothing to worry about on that front, but it just goes to show how seriously the sport is taken.”
International competitions cost money and sponsorship is rare. So soon, Lucy and her family will be looking at fundraising ideas to help her achieve her potential over the next couple of years.
But for now she is concentrating on next month’s World Championships.
“I was a wreck at the start of the European Championships, but I focused and did well,” says the 15-year-old. “I am just going to do the best I can for myself and Team GB.”
POWERLIFTING: THE FACTS
Powerlifting is a strength sport, where competitors are allowed three to four attempts on each of these categories: squat, bench press, and deadlift. Their best lift counts toward a final competition total.
Competitors are judged against other lifters of the same gender, weight class, and age which ranges from 15-18 (Sub-Jr), 19-23 (Jr), Any age (Open), 40+ (Masters), 70+ (Grandmasters).
There are two types of powerlifting – classic (which Lucy does) or equipped, where a squat suit, knee wraps, a bench shirt, and a deadlift suit are worn to enable competitors to lift more weight. The World Powerlifting Championships take place in Minsk, Belarus, between June 14 and 25.