14-year-old Ipswich Athenas star to represent Great Britain at weightlifting

Gracie Besant, 14, is preparing to represent Great Britain in Kazakhstan in the World Bench Press Championships in May.

Gracie Besant, 14, is preparing to represent Great Britain in Kazakhstan in the World Bench Press Championships in May. - Credit: Jo Besant / Archant

A teenager from Colchester is preparing to represent Great Britain at weightlifting in Kazakhstan later this year – fulfilling a lifelong dream.  

Gracie Besant, 14, came first in the British Powerlifting National Bench Competition on February 19.

And now, she is looking forward to the World Bench Press Championships in May – just days after her 15th birthday.

Gracie with her coach, Mick Amey.

Gracie with her proud coach, Mick Amey. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

“I set a new English bench press record for 55 kg,” says Gracie. “It was a really great atmosphere. There were 170 lifters, and it definitely got quite crazy and manic. 

“I was the youngest person there – again!” 

She says her community has rallied around her as she trains, and she has been overwhelmed by the support from her friends, family, and teammates.

As well as lifting weights Gracie plays rugby for Ipswich Athenas, and practices Brazilian jiu-jitsu.  

Gracie is delighted to have won the national competition, but now has her eyes set on the international championships in May.

Gracie is delighted to have won the national competition, but now has her eyes set on the international championships in May. - Credit: Jo Besant

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She has also been visited by some big names from the weightlifting world. 

“I had a training session in Ipswich with the World’s Strongest Woman, Andrea Thompson,” Gracie said.  

“It was really nice talking to her, and she gave me some advice and deadlifting tips. 

“She gave me a few compliments too, and told me I had really good form.” 

Thompson, who is from Melton, told Gracie about her plans to fly out to America for the Arnold festival this week to compete in the strong women events.  

It was an inspiring experience for Gracie, who says she has often been to sporting events when she is one of the only women there. 

Now, Gracie is training hard ahead of the World Bench Press Championships in May, when she will travel more than 3,000 miles to compete in Kazakhstan.  

Gracie will travel to Kazakhstan with several team mates and her proud parents, Jo and Sacha.

Gracie will travel to Kazakhstan with several team mates and her proud parents, Jo and Sacha. - Credit: Jo Besant

“It's an amazing opportunity,” she said. “It's like the powerlifting equivalent of the Olympics!” 

She will be accompanied by her parents, Jo and Sacha Besant.  

They have set up a GoFundMe page to help meet the costs of Gracie’s trip, such as her flight, accommodation and equipment. 

Gracie Besant, 14, has just won first place in the British Powerlifting National Bench competition.

Gracie Besant, 14, has just won first place in the British Powerlifting National Bench competition. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

“We’re going too, but the GoFundMe is just for Gracie,” explained mum Jo. “We couldn’t miss seeing Gracie compete.” 

The family will arrive home in time for half-term. However, Jo doubts that Gracie will take the chance to relax.  

“She’ll probably be straight back in the gym!”