Powerlifter making sport debut in lockdown is British junior champion

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Harriet Waite was one of thousands of people scrambling to buy gym equipment to fill the days during lockdown, and soon started lifting weights in her garage gym.

But while the obsession of many faded away, Wight continued with his hobby and went on to become the British Junior Champion in a record-breaking competition performance.

“Before lockdown I never set foot in a real gym, which is crazy to think about now,” said the 21-year-old. “I can’t imagine my life not doing what it is now.”

White, a health worker from Kettering, competed at the British Junior Powerlifting Championships, where she won her category and broke a British record when she lifted 201kg – 0.5kg more than the previous record set in 2018.

“I was over the moon. I’m not a very emotional lifter, but this one really got over me, I just stood there. I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “Going into this I had a lot of self-doubt.”

Waite, who works for Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust as a senior support worker helping children in respite care, lived at home with her parents and spent much time there during the pandemic.

She said she enjoyed taking her first steps in the sport in a home environment rather than a commercial gym, and once she got into it lifting weights came naturally to her.

“A lot of people said to me: ‘You shouldn’t start with that kind of weight, it’s very unusual for someone who’s just starting out,'” she said. “During the lockdown I was counting the days for the gym to reopen so that I could start training properly.

“I went crazy for it as soon as the lockdown was over.”

Not far from his garage gym start, he now has a coach and nutritionist to help ensure his diet is fueling him enough to compete.

She was due to compete in her first competition in May 2021, but had to pull out because she had come in contact with someone who had COVID-19, and eventually competed for the first time in July that year.

At the time the competitions were being held “behind closed doors”, meaning none of her family and friends could attend.

“My family has been very supportive, last year they came with me to New Zealand for the Commonwealth Powerlifting Championships. And everything is self-funded, so it’s been quite a challenge,” she said.

On the back of her competition success, she is hoping to be selected for the World Championships in Romania in August, as well as the European Championships in Budapest later in the year.

“I can’t imagine my life without the gym now,” she said. “Everyone says: ‘I don’t know how you can go to the gym five to six days a week.’ Some people think that getting up to go to the gym is difficult, but I have never been.”



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