Olympic Weightlifting is a sport that is rapidly growing in popularity for both men and women. If you are thinking about trying it but looking for some further inspiration, Team Grenade's Joy Rushton shares how it became her passion and how it has taken her overall training to the next level.

Firstly, a little bit about me, I am an 18-year-old Olympic weightlifter who is currently balancing full time training alongside studying Physiotherapy at the University of Birmingham.

How did you get into Olympic lifting?

For me Olympic lifting was not my first competitive sport. From a young age I had been at national level in a variety of different sports, predominately being modern pentathlon (swimming, running, fencing, horse-riding and shooting). However, after numerous injuries and lack of time, I had to stop. Shortly after, I started going to the gym weekly, training generally on cardio equipment and a few weight machines. I stayed clear of free weights, as, like many girls, I felt uncomfortable being in a busy gym and I felt I was going to be judged at how weak I was. At this point I weighed around 49kg and was extremely skinny. However, when a friend introduced me to free weights this is when the bug for lifting really started.

How long have you been doing it for?

For the first 6-8 months I was training in a general workout split: arms, back, legs etc. However, just going to the gym wasn’t enough for me, I was missing the competitive element of a sport. Olympic Weightlifting caught my eye on social media and it grabbed my attention. My first ever weightlifting session was in May 2016 at Loughborough University. It was with the weightlifting club, who I owe a lot to, especially the coaches as they taught me the sport and I wouldn’t be where I am now without their help and guidance.

Fast forward 18 months and I have recently competed at my first British Junior Championship, gained 10kg in muscular bodyweight and added nearly 40kg onto my lifts!

Joy Rushton Image 1

Photo Credit: Ed Swarbrick

What have you learnt through taking up this sport?

Olympic lifting has taught me predominantly that I am always a lot stronger then I think I am and how to really push myself. Weight and technique work that may seem impossible at the time I have always managed to overcome through hard levels of training.

What’s the hardest aspect?

It's a very demanding sport physically and mentally and will push you to levels you could never dream of. The hardest thing I have found is trying to stay positive. We all have bad days in the gym and with Olympic Lifting, the bad days will sometimes overcome the good. Keeping a positive mind-set is always challenging, especially when a weight I have hit so easily before seems nearly impossible on a bad day! Weightlifting is a sport of perseverance - carrying on when it gets tough will lead to more strength in the future.

What’s your next challenge?

In the next year, I would like to be looking at English Senior Qualification and then British Senior. Also medalling at the U20 championships next year is something I can see being very achievable.

Joy Rushton Image 2

Photo Credit: Ed Swarbrick

What advice would you give to anyone looking to start Olympic Weightlifting?

Persevere and don’t give up when it gets tough! We all have to start somewhere so when you first hit the gym, don’t compare yourself to anyone that has years more experience than you, your time will come! Also stay on top of your nutrition and now with a brand like Grenade supporting me, this is becoming easier then ever!

Also, just enjoy the process! For me, lifting is a way for me to focus on myself, feel positive and get that endorphin release! There's obviously the added plus of getting stronger and increasing the chance of competing at a higher level in my sport. Sharing my progress through social media is something I really enjoy, as I hope to inspire more people to join the sport and become more confident with themselves. I hope that more people can realise that becoming strong won’t on many popular beliefs make women look “manly” and instead realise the beauty in strength.

You can follow Joy and her lifting journey over on her Instagram.