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Britain’s Strongest Disabled Woman – ‘MS won’t stop me’

PUBLISHED: 16:47 06 January 2020 | UPDATED: 17:25 06 January 2020

Jo Dunnett was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 19 years ago but that hasn't stopped her from becoming Britain's strongest woman. Picture: JO DUNNETT

Jo Dunnett was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 19 years ago but that hasn't stopped her from becoming Britain's strongest woman. Picture: JO DUNNETT

Archant

Being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis can feel like the end of the world, but Jo Dunnett from Sudbury has ignored the condition to be crowned Britain’s Strongest Woman.

Jo Dunnett has been lucky enough to meet some of the world's strongest men, she is picture here with Luke and Tom Stoltman - the first brothers to ever make it to a World's Strongest Man final together. Picture: JO DUNNETTJo Dunnett has been lucky enough to meet some of the world's strongest men, she is picture here with Luke and Tom Stoltman - the first brothers to ever make it to a World's Strongest Man final together. Picture: JO DUNNETT

Suffolk woman Jo Dunnett is no exception and has won the title of Britain's Strongest Woman, in the disabled standing class, just six years after stepping into a gym.

She has now qualified for the chance to compete at the Arnold in March - a world renowned festival in Ohio which will see 22,000 athletes from 80 nations compete in more than 80 events.

The 42-year-old lives in Sudbury with her two children who love seeing their mum in action heaving stones, pressing logs and pulling trucks.

"I love doing it, because my MS is so unpredictable I never know when it could be my last year so I just have to keep going for it as long as I can," she said.

Jo Dunnett was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 19 years ago but that hasn't stopped her from becoming Britain's strongest woman. Picture: JO DUNNETTJo Dunnett was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 19 years ago but that hasn't stopped her from becoming Britain's strongest woman. Picture: JO DUNNETT

"I was unaware when I did the British championships that I had qualified to do the Arnold, I had it sprung on me and now I'm eight weeks out and in a mad rush to get everything sorted.

"I haven't even got a passport but I know I've got to try and get there."

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Now a personal trainer, Jo still faces many issues when training as sometimes her limbs will lose function or she could be in a lot of pain.

Jo Dunnett won Britain's Strongest woman in 2019 and is aming to compete internationally. Picture: JO DUNNETTJo Dunnett won Britain's Strongest woman in 2019 and is aming to compete internationally. Picture: JO DUNNETT

"It's hard when I don't look disabled - some of these other athletes have lost limbs but I just have limbs which don't work," she said.

"But the support you get from your competitors is amazing, there's a real camaraderie."

When she did her first competition Jo had never touched any strongman equipment and yet throughout the day - despite pouring rain - all she could think was 'this is great'.

Sharing her journey on social media has allowed her to connect with other people suffering from MS and she is proud to have inspired some of them.

Whilst her friends and family have worried that the sport is too hard on her body, the personal trainer insists that it is a therapy for her.

"It helps so much with my body, when I'm in the gym and I've got that endorphin rush and seeing my muscles grow and what I can do with them keeps me going back," she added.

You can donate to her Go Fund Me page to get to the Arnold competition here.


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