Supermum Andrea Thompson from Ipswich is the strongest in the UK
- Credit: Archant
Suffolk woman Andrea Thompson is a busy working mum - and she is also a champion.
The former Farlingaye High School pupil has two young daughters and works in the Hopkins Homes’ head office at Melton.
And on her desk she has a trophy, and a medal, for winning the title The UK’s Strongest Woman in the national finals held in Newcastle.
Winning the national title gives her the opportunity to compete in the World Championships in the USA next year.
Yet Andrea, 33, is only a relative newcomer in this sport, having dropped out of sport after her school days.
“At school I was quite sporty, I suppose. I loved the field events and had a couple of school records, at shot putt and javelin, I played netball and I was quite good at rounders.
“After school I didn’t do sport, but I loved dancing every weekend.”
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Andrea is married to Stephen and they have two daughters, Violet, four years and Olivia, seven, who attend the local primary school.
“They have already taken my trophy in to school to show and tell,” laughed Andrea. “I have a very proud husband too. My dad, (Julian Brown), came with me to Newcastle to support me.
“it is very exciting, and to have a chance of going to Ohio next year is amazing, and to compete agains the best in the world.”
Strongest woman and strongest man competitions have some familiar individual events.
Andrea has had to pull a 3 tonne truck, and take part in a wide variety of lifting, carrying and throwing events.
They include “flipping tyres”, log lifting, Farmer’s walk (two hands), The Yoke and others.
In competition some of the tasks are timed, for points, or counted by the number of repetitions completed.
Getting into the sport has been almost by chance for Andrea.
“My sister, Kelly, got married in July, and she wanted to go to the gym, to get fitter and to lose a bit of weight to get into her wedding dress.
“I was a bridesmaid.
“So we went together to the gym, to cross train, at first.
“We both lost a bit of weight.
“And I realised I was a bit stronger than some of the guys.”
Now she trains at Suffolk Strength Academy at Ransomes Europark, Ipswich three times a week, and is coached by Ben Gray.
Andrea’s first competition was in June this year, and she took third place after six weeks of training.
“Some of the other women had been training years,” she said, “and I was a beginner.”
Next up was the English finals, where she came second in her weight category.
Then was the UK Strongest Women finals where she won the title on the open class.
“There are three weight categories, under 63KG, under 73KG and Open.
“I am in the open category, so I can be up against bigger and taller women.”
At Newcastle there were five separate tasks to complete.
First there was the Log Lift.
Andrea’s best `good lift’ was 90KG. (“I did attempt 100KG”).
The second event was a 175KG Dead Lift (it had to be held for 60 seconds).
Third event was a sword lift, - holding a 18Kilo sword for as long as possible.
Fourth element was a Farmer’s Walk, carrying 90 Kilos in each hand.
The competitor had to carry their load 25 metres out, and back, within a time limit.
The fifth event was a repetitive lift of a 90 Kilo weight, an Atlas stone, for the most repetitions in 60 seconds.
Following her title win, Andrea had a week’s rest, but returned to training.
After Christmas the next competition to aim for is the East Mildands Championship, in February, she said.
Followed by the World Championships, in Ohio, in March.
“They are known as the Arnold Classics,” she said, “After Arnold Schwarzenegger.”
She will need to raise £1,200 to go to the USA to compete, and will be looking for sponsorship to help.
It family terms it does have an impact.
If their car stops unexpectedly, Andrea can give it a push-start.
But on the downside she does find it difficult to get winter coats that fit well.
“I have bigger shoulders now, so I am wearing one of my husband’s coats,” she explained.
She eats normally, with lots of protein, and tries to limit herself to 2,500 calories a day.
“I have small meals, more often,” she says.
Coach Ben Gray said: “We have five girls here that are competing.
“Andrea only really started in June 2014, It is incredibly impressive what she has achieved so far.
“There is loads of potential there, to be where she is already, considering she has only been lifting weights for a year.”