Former World’s Strongest Woman from Suffolk to attempt new world record lift
- Credit: Archant
Andrea Thompson has held for title of Britain’s Strongest Woman four times and battled to win the world title in 2018 – now during lockdown she’s going to attempt to break a world record.
The mother-of-two lives in Melton and was named as Suffolk Sports Personality of the year in November in recognition of her incredible achievements in a sport she only started five years ago.
With all sporting events for the summer cancelled, World’s Ultimate Strongman are hosting a series of record breaking attempts on their Feats of Strength series, streamed live online, and Andrea is taking on the formidable log lift next weekend.
She’s juggling home schooling her daughters, aged eight and 11, with working from home as a lecturer for Suffolk New College and training for the event.
“Because of the way the world happened, all of our competitions were cancelled and the organisers wanted to keep the sport alive,” the 37-year-old explained. “They wanted to keep it exciting.”
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In recent training she has hit an astonishing 125kg log lift and the current world record is only 4k heavier, meaning there should be plenty in the tank to snag it on the big day.
Though gyms across the country have shut down, Andrea has been lucky to be able to train at her friend’s garage gym which has all the right equipment, because HIIT sessions in the garden don’t quite cut it in strongwoman.
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“It will all depend on how I feel but I am confident I can break the record on the day,” she reassured. “There are a lot of factors to consider like my sleep the night before, what if I get road rage on the way to the venue? Physically the strength is there though.”
The national champion will be travelling down to Surrey for the event on Saturday July 4 which will consist of a small team of women – she likes to have an all female team wherever she competes – a livestream camera and the judges.
The lift involves picking up an iron log from the floor, flipping it up to the shoulders and then pressing it overhead until the elbows are locked.
Andrea admits the prospect of lifting a world record without the atmosphere of a large sporting event will be difficult and said: “It is hard because normally when we attempt these big lifts there is a crowd, lights and music and you feed off that hype and energy.
“It will be hard to do alone in a room with just a few people but I know everyone will be watching online.”
Being a large woman with hard earned muscle, the mum has faced prejudice over the years and says it has been frustrating having both men and women make ignorant comments.
She said: “When I put on weight for a competition I do get comments and it is always older people, especially older men.
“They say ‘oh your arms look really big’ or they like to criticise my husband which really annoys me – they say ‘oh I bet you can’t bench press me’ or ‘I bet your husband isn’t as strong as you’.
“It is just an inferiority complex and I try not to take it personally. Some guys just don’t understand strong women.”
Though strongwoman is growing as a sport, there are still common misunderstandings about the supposed limits of female strength or the idea that women shouldn’t be seen as muscular.
Andrea said she still sees women who are intimidated to pick up a dumbbell or barbell at the gym.
“They think that they will look like the Michelin man if they do,” she laughed. “We push ourselves and our bodies more and more.
“I deadlifted 282kg for a new world record recently which is just unheard of.
“Women are coming out of the stereotype and embracing their strength. Who doesn’t want to pull a truck?”
Strongman involves numerous different exercises, including pulling trucks and planes, lifting enormously heavy atlas stones, squatting and deadlifting weights and even tossing iron kegs over a bar 14ft high.
To be competitive in the sport, bodyweight is necessary to keep up with the staggeringly heavy events and punishing training schedule – but times have changed and Andrea added: “I’ve always been a big girl but my shape has changed doing strongwoman.
“It used to be if you competed as a heavyweight athlete you needed to just be fat, but now I have hired a nutritionist to work with.
“I have been there with all body shapes, so I would never body shame anyone.”
The world record log lift attempt will be streamed live on the CoreSports website.