Twenty-one-year-old Sarah Gardiner is preparing for the European Powerlifting Championship in Lithuania in the coming weeks.
Hailing from Oola, Gardiner only got into the sport two years ago, and has already taken part in many regional and national level competitions since 2017 – with two National titles under her belt.
Having competed internationally in June in the World powerlifting Championships in Calgary Canada, Sarah placed 3rd in Bench Press and Overall Total, making her the first Irish junior in Irish Powerlifting Federations history to podium place for overall total.
Speaking to the Limerick Voice about her upcoming competition, Sarah said: “I’m pretty excited. Competing always gives me a proper adrenaline buzz. The first squat attempt is always daunting so once I get that out of the way I should be good, nerve-wise, for the day. I’ve had two good training blocks leading up to this so I hope the hard work and numbers show on the day.”
Representing your country in any sport is a huge achievement and for the young athlete it means a great deal.
“It really is the highest honour for any sport. Although it is only an amateur sport, it’s what I invest most of my time doing and I put a lot of hard work and dedication into it, so to be able to represent them at the highest level means absolutely everything,” she explains.
Having gone through a rough time in her late teens, Sarah was introduced to the sport and spoke of what it takes to make your way to the top and reach your goals.
“I have four training days that I usually split over Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Each program lasts four weeks, which consists of different variations of Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift,” Sarah says.
“I don’t have that strict a diet, I usually stick to around 1800-2000 kcals a day with a priority on carbs before a training session and protein afterwards,” she said.
Sarah’s love for the sport pushes her to strive for greatness and has introduced her to a growing community of powerlifters in Ireland who give her continuous help and support on her journey.
“Although powerlifting is an individual sport, there is a great community, within Irish Powerlifting as a whole and especially in the gym I train, CityGym.
“You meet so many people from many different parts of the country, all with different and interesting stories to tell. You befriend people you never thought you would,” she added.
Taking up a new sport is always challenging but Sarah’s determination has gotten her to where she is now.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day. When I started I felt like a fish in a desert I had no real sporting background was completely out of my comfort zone and was convinced I’d get nowhere with it. I stuck with it and sought the buzz the discomfort gave me.”
“I don’t know what had made me so stubborn at the time to stick with it, but I’m so glad I did,” she mused.
It’s all eyes on the future as Sarah sets her sights on adding to her collection of medals and aiming big with the hopes of powerlifting among women growing in the coming years.
“My hope is that in the future, the strength and success of all the powerlifting girls in Ireland proves to them there is nothing negative about, not only the physical strength, but also the emotional strength that powerlifting teaches you,” she says.
“Powerlifting taught me a lot, how to deal with failure, how to overcome fear, to manage my emotions, to channel my anger and frustration a constructive manner.”
“I just want to constantly improve, technique-wise and strength-wise. To know that no matter what competition I do I have given my all, that 100% of my efforts had gone into my performance,” Sarah explained.