TONBRIDGE powerlifter Lizzie Mills has been crowned junior champion at the All England Championships at Moulton College in Northampton, winning the Under-23 category for 72kg.
The 22-year-old teacher, who has an engaging habit of smiling when she lifts, has also been selected for Team GB to take part in the European Bench Press Championships.
Lizzie said of her national title: ‘It’s a huge achievement. I didn’t go into this competition expecting, or even hoping, to win because it seemed so far away and the competition was going to be steep as the standard is high.
‘I try to concentrate on doing my best and trying to improve on my performance each time and having fun rather than focusing on getting a place on the podium.’
I went into the competition aiming to achieve a double bodyweight squat of 140kg (over 300lbs) which is a huge milestone, and to also get a 400lb (roughly 180kg) deadlift.
The event kicked off with squats and Lizzie began by lifting her previous best in competition, 127.5kg, then went up to her best in the gym, 135kg, before breaking new ground with 140kg.
‘I didn’t think I’d get it, having never touched the weight and being very psychologically affected by milestones, but I had nothing to lose so just gave it my best shot,’ said Lizzie. ‘It was heavy but I knew my legs were strong enough to lift it.’
The next discipline was the bench press, which is Lizzie’s forte. She recently took part in the World Championships in Finland, having won the British Championships in February. She lifted 70kg, then 75kg, but narrowly missed out on 77.5kg.
The final category was her favourite, the deadlifts. She opened with 167.5kg, ‘which felt awfully heavy, but I had game plan in mind and wasn’t going to stray from it’. She graduated to 180kg, which was a 1kg personal best.
In order to reach the coveted 400kg overall total across all three events, Lizzie needed to lift 185kg on her last attempt, which she duly achieved.
She added: ‘I realise now that at the time I could have attempted to break the British record, which was 187.5kg, but better to play it safe and secure the 400kg total goal than to risk it all.’
While her main competitor had managed a ‘huge’ squat of 152.5kg but Lizzie had clawed back the 12.5kg margin over the next two events.
Although they had both reached the 400kg mark, Lizzie was deemed the winner on bodyweight since she weighed 400g less than her rival.
Lifting the depression
Lizzie Mills currently teaches mathematics at a school in Portsmouth. While she was at university there, she suffered from anorexia and depression – and she credits powerlifting with saving her life.
Now she says: ‘My health is good. I have a lot of focus these days and especially now I’m progressing in the sport and representing the country, I have to be very diligent with my diet and self-care. I even went part time at work to be able to spend more time training and looking after myself.’
PICTURE: HEAVY DUTY: Lizzie hoists 185kg in the deadlift, a 6kg personal best, to win the title with 400kg overall