YOU might think a champion lifter would already be carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders.
But not only is Sarah Davies one of the UK's most successful weightlifters – she is also a former beauty queen.
The 30-year-old was crowned Miss Intercontinental England in 2018, the same year she earned a silver weightlifting medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Having won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last year, Sarah now has her sights set on the Olympics in Paris next year – and she speaks exclusively to The Sun about her journey so far, and why beauty pageants will always be scarier than weightlifting.
Bullied at 13 for 'pecs'
Sarah, from Preston, says she was always into gymnastics in school, but gave it up when she was 13 because she was bullied for being muscular.
“I was a 13-year-old female with an eight pack and pecs,” she says. “It wasn’t normal, and I just wanted to look like everybody else.
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“That’s a regret but also, I wouldn't be here now if I hadn't done that.”
Although she tried a few different sports first, moving into beauty pageants from gymnastics seemed like a natural progression for Sarah, and she was crowned Miss Leeds in 2012.
But, while she was preparing for the beauty pageant, she’d also started to discover a love of weightlifting – thanks to her boyfriend at the time, Olympic weightlifter Jack Oliver.
She says: “He got me into it, when he was training for London 2012 – he competed there, and is an excellent weightlifter.
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“I went to the gym to watch him one time and he was like 'Why don't you give it a try?' And I did, and it turns out I was quite good at it!”
Trolled at beauty pageants
In 2015, Sarah became the first British woman to win the Under-23 European Championships.
But she cemented her reputation with a brilliant 69kg Commonwealth silver on the Gold Coast in 2018, the same year she was crowned Miss Intercontinental England.
That’s when she had to make a decision, and she chose weightlifting.
“I was never going to win at an international level,” she explains of her decision to quit beauty pageants. “Those girls do it as a full time job, and it was very much a hobby for me.
“I actually got trolled when I went to the international competition for being muscular.”
She quickly adds: “That's not why I stopped, that's actually why I was there. It was to be there and to do that, and show that you can be both.
“I'm not saying never again to competing but for now weightlifting is my focus.
"I find pageants are actually a bit scarier than a weightlifting platform because I'm more likely to fall over in six-inch heels than I am to fall over with a big weight above my head!"
Squats over two and half times bodyweight
Sarah now trains five times a week, two and a half to three hours at a time, and can squat a whopping 175kg – over two and a half times her bodyweight of 64kg.
And she enjoys the fact her progress is “so measurable,” as opposed to the subjective nature of pageants.
She adds: “You can see that you're getting better – not necessarily seeing the technique improve, but there's more weight going on the bar.
“I could also see my body change again and just be fitter, healthier and stronger.
“People go, 'I'd love to have a body like yours,' but actually, I don't train for that. That is a byproduct of enjoying my sport, and if you find something you enjoy that keeps you active, you're gonna reach that goal without realising you're reaching it."
'More muscly than ever'
She adds: "I was bullied for being muscular and now I'm more muscular than I've ever been.
“I've put nearly 20 kilos on since I started weightlifting – I wish I had me at 12 years old to show you can be strong and still be feminine.”
The goal for Sarah now is Paris 2024, and to be Olympic champion.
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“I’m going for the whole thing of reach for the stars and land on the moon. Let’s just see where we end up in the process,” she finishes.
Sarah Davies is a Reign Total Body Fuel athlete. For more information about the zero-sugar performance energy drink, visit their website.
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