Ice skater turned Hammer thrower turned Commonwealth Games Weightlifter for Wales. Steph Owens is 25 and has been participating in Weightlifting for over 6 years. She has represented Wales on many occasions including the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and Commonwealth Championships in India 2015 where she picked up a bronze medal. Along side this she does modelling and acting - how does she fit it all in?
Congratulations on winning your category at the British Weightlifting Championships last month! How are you feeling after your success?
I'm feeling fantastic! Its great to be able to say Im British Champion but now its about getting back in the gym and pushing onwards and upwards.
Your sporting career is pretty varied, from ice skating to hammer throw, and even ending up as a Gladiator semi-finalist! How have you now ended up in competitive weightlifting?
It is quite an extensive list and there is a long story to it but in short I was taking a year out from Hammer Throwing so was planning on doing other sports in the mean time for a bit of fun and to keep my strength up. I started competing in Powerlifting for this reason and when I went to see my Physio as I had picked up a little niggle he recommended giving Olympic Weightlifting a go and about a week later the Welsh National Coach called me to organise trying a session. As they say the rest is history!
When it comes to competition time, how do you step up your training in the run up to an event? Any pre-comp rituals?
I try to cut down my time in work and get over to my coach in Leeds a lot more from about 6 weeks to go. I havent really got any pre comp rituals I dont think. There is probably some annoying habit that I do but I just havent noticed .
You’re not unaccustomed to the more glamorous side of life after previously competing in Miss Wales – have you been tempted to go down the physique route, competing as a figure athlete rather than on the strength side?
Competing in Miss Wales was a lot of fun but although like weightlifting you are on stage it is a lot different. Firstly weightlifting all your muscles ache after a competition, after a pageant you are mainly hurting in your face from smiling so much :) I dont think I could be as strict as a Physique model in regards to the food control - I like food too much!
So many women still see any form of weight lifting as a male dominated environment, what advice would you give to encourage more girls to see past this and give it a go?
The question you have to ask is 'Why?' Why is it male dominated? Because it used to be just males that lifted weights but now more females are giving it a go. The more that participate, the less wierd it will be to see a girl in a weights room and the less intimidating it will be for the girls in the weights room. I admit I have felt intimidated at times in a couple of gyms I have randomly trained in but always think ' I have as much right to be here as the next person, everyone is just here to train hard, regardless of gender.'
You’re living and breathing sport and fitness at the moment, not only as a competitive weight lifter but as a qualified personal trainer. What’s a typical day like for you?
Generally I wake up at around 7, have breakfast, I work from around 8am - 12 midday, get home and have some food, train then back to work 3 - 8pm then food and then bed. I train 5 times a week with thursday and sunday off so I try not to work weekends and have sunday as a complete 'do nothing' day.
Are there any sacrifices you have had to make to get to the level you’re at?
My Social life! Around 6 weeks before a competition I go into 'hermit' mode. I completely focus on training and giving my body the best chance constantly asking myself am I doing everything possible to perform at my best. My friends all understand this which is great as they all support me but it can be hard sometimes when you miss out on family gatherings etc because they are going out for meals and you cant go as you have 1 week before a comp and are cutting weight etc. Its all worth it though :)
Have you had any injuries that you’ve had to overcome? How did you find training around them?
My First 3 years of lifting were plagued by injury! I had a really good first year going from a 108kg total to a 138kg in just 10 months. Then the injuries came. I had a rotator cuff injury that took me out for the first 2/3 months of 2011 then just when I Got back to fitness and around a 140kg total I pulled my Hip Flexor in the August. This meant I couldnt lift for 2 months and then had to start from an empty bar again. It took me to the February 2012 before I was back up to around a 140kg total and then in the June I started experiencing some back pain which took me out for another couple of months. Since September 2013 I have had a pretty good run and although I have had the off niggle there has been nothing too serious. It is hard as you have to do the things you can and avoid the things that hurt. That can be really disheartening especially if the things you cant do are the main part of lifting ie bar overhead. You have to just keep at the training and do what you can no matter how insignificant you may find them as its all strengthening somewhere and will help in the long run.
What is the best advice you've been given in your fitness career to date?
Probably off my old Hammer Coach which was to train harder than you think your opponent can by doing things you know they wont be or cant be bothered to do. In the winter season he would have me running 400m as part of my first 6 week conditioning and that season I threw a welsh record. How many hammer throwers do you know that run 400m?! It made me come up with a quote ' do the unthinkable to achieve the unbelievable,' and I firmly stand by that.
What’s on the cards for you over this next year?
I'm hoping to qualify for the Commonwealth Championships in November as I'm currently writing this from a hotel in Tenerife a couple of days before I Compete in the Womens Eleiko International for Wales.After this weekend I have a 2 week holiday (will still be training dont worry) and then back to the gym to start pushing up my total further. No time to rest for me.
Quick Fire Questions
Go-to pre-workout snack?
Coffee and a Cookie - if im not cutting weight :)
Clean and jerk
Dream training partner?
Current top power song to get you motivated?
We Own it - 2 chains & Wiz Khalifa
Favourite cheat meal?
Cake and chocolate - thats a meal right?!
Do the unthinkable to achieve the unbelievable - Steph Owens