Powerlifting champion Gracie, 14, sets sights on more sporting success
- Credit: Archant
A teenage champion powerlifter with the ability to lift the weight of top England rugby players will defend her title next month.
Gracie Besant, 14, from Colchester, won the Anglian Open British Powerlifting Competition in December, finding herself the youngest person there.
“The next person competing was 18,” she said.
Not only did Gracie win, but she equalled the East Midland squat record, which she is determined to break when she competes again in February.
To put her achievement in rugby terms, the Ipswich Athenas Girls Rugby member squatted the weight of Jamie George (240 lbs) and deadlifted the weight of Billy Vunipola (286 lbs).
“I’ve always been sporty,” says Gracie, “I was at the gym, doing some machine work and weight-training, and my now current coach came up to me and said, would you like me to teach you how to lift properly? I thought, well, why not? And it all started from there."
In the past year she has become more than a little sporty, and divides her time between weightlifting, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and boxing - having played rugby since she was 10.
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Determined to keep up with her strength-building journey, she has continued to push herself over the past year, watched on by her proud family.
Her mum Jo said: “I see other kids who have really struggled in lockdown, and not done much, but I am really lucky, in that Gracie motivates herself.
“When she started taking it really seriously, she had only just turned thirteen. I’m so proud of her.”
"She literally woke up one morning, decided she didn’t want to be a ballerina anymore and picked up a rugby ball, and she hasn’t looked back since."
Gracie is full of a steely determination, and enjoys surpassing people’s expectations.
When she does Brazilian jiu-jitzu, she says is often one of the only girls there.
The teenager said: “I’m used to sparring with people who aren’t the same height and weight as me. In a way, that gives me an advantage.
“A lot of people are surprised to find how strong I am, especially when I’m boxing. They don’t expect me to hit that hard.”
Reaching the final 16 of the National Cup with Ipswich Athenas, she is currently preparing to defend her title in British Powerlifting on February 19.