Ipswich Athenas star wins weightlifting silver medal for Great Britain

Gracie Besant, 15, has returned from competing in the World Women's Bench Press Championships with a silver medal.

Gracie Besant, 15, has returned from competing in the World Women's Bench Press Championships with a silver medal. - Credit: Jo Besant

A young weightlifting star is back in the UK after travelling over 4,000 miles to represent Great Britain – and has returned with a silver medal. 

Gracie Besant, 15, flew out to Almaty in Kazakhstan on May 24, where she competed in the Women’s Classic Bench Press Championships representing Great Britain. She came in second place in the under-18s category. 

The women’s junior team were awarded bronze. 

Gracie has developed a taste for competing internationally, and will be flying out to Budapest in August

Gracie has developed a taste for competing internationally, and will be flying out to Budapest in August on the back of her success in Almaty, Kazakhstan. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Travelling to Almaty, Kazakhstan to compete was, said Gracie, an incredible experience.

Travelling to Almaty, Kazakhstan to compete was, said Gracie, an incredible experience. - Credit: Jo Besant

“It was a crazy atmosphere,” Gracie, who plays for Ipswich Athenas rugby team and lives in Colchester, said. “It was a big, big venue. There were lots of people spectating, athletes, judges and officials.  

“There were 20 girls if that in the under 18s, and I was the youngest entrant from GB.” 

Mum Jo said watching her daughter compete was an unforgettable experience. 

“Her dad and I are so proud of her", she said.

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“It was literally a head-to-head, and the difference between gold and silver was just one lift.

“The other girls in her category made it a really good competition. One would lift, and then the other would lift higher.” 

Jo said that her daughter remained calm and cool throughout the whole competition.

Jo said that her daughter remained calm and cool throughout the whole competition. - Credit: Jo Besant

Gracie placed second in the World Women's Classic Bench Press Championships, and returned home with a silver medal.

Gracie placed second in the World Women's Classic Bench Press Championships, and returned home with a silver medal. - Credit: Jo Besant

Gracie said she enjoyed meeting fellow bench-lifters and said there was a great sense of comradery between them, as many were staying in the same hotel. 

“You’d go down to breakfast, and get to talk to all the different athletes from all the different countries,” she said. 

And lifting in Kazakhstan has whet Gracie’s appetite to compete at an international level again.

Gracie’s success has meant she has been selected to take part in European Bench-press Championships in Budapest this August, again representing her country for the second time aged just 15. 

“Having been to competitions in England, they’re great, but the atmosphere is just electric at an international one,” said mum Jo. 

“Everyone is really nice to each other, no matter what country you come from. It’s a really inclusive sport.” 

As well as lifting weights and playing rugby Gracie practices Brazilian jiu-jitsu.  

Jo said her daughter is showing no signs of slowing down. 

“We landed home on Saturday 28, and I think it was only a couple of later that I went to the gym,” Gracie said. 

Gracie will be competing at a charity boxing match coming up on July 23, at Charter Hall in Colchester.