AN Omagh woman has been selected for the Northern Ireland Powerlifting Federation team to take part in the Commonwealth Powerlifting Championships in Canada just two and a half years after taking up the sport.
Michelle Breen took up powerlifting at the beginning of 2017 and just last week received an email from the Northern Ireland Powerlifting Federation confirming she had been selected for the Commonwealth Championship which take place from September 14-21.
Her selection, while coming as a complete surprise to Michelle, who had been encouraged to give the sport a go by Fit For Life proprietor Noreen McDermott, followed a number of impressive performances. In her first rookie event some 18 months ago the Trillick native, who now resides in Omagh, finished fourth and since then she has made it onto the podium on each and every occasion.
Those performances had alerted Northern Ireland selectors but, despite her rapid progress, Breen admitted she was shocked when receiving her recent invite to represent her country.
“I was completely overwhelmed at receiving the email inviting me to such a huge event and it still hasn’t really sunk in,” she said.
“I feel very honoured to be selected by the Northern Ireland Powerlifting Federation to represent Northern Ireland in a sport I absolutely love doing.
“I have made so many new friends and this sport has given me a new lease of life. My daughter Erin who is 28 is super proud of me.
“This is a dream come true for me and a once in a lifetime opportunity and also the biggest challenge of my life.“
Breen initially competed in the 72kg M1 category but last time out cut her weight to compete in the 63kg M1 section.
In that competition at Newtownabbey’s Valley Leisure Centre back in April, the latecomer to the sport benched 50kg, had a squat of 97.5kg and a deadlift of 127.5kg.
Now though everything is geared towards going to Vancouver at the end of the summer and Breen knows the hard work is only starting.
“I had never done any weight training till I started in Fit For Life two and half years ago, so it just shows that anybody can achieve the impossible, even me,” she added,
“Fit for life has a powerlifting club of which I am a member. All members are a great support to each other, it’s like a second family.”
Participating in the Commonwealth Championships though doesn’t come cheap. The entire trip will cost around £1700 and to help her raise funds Michelle has set up a gofundme page on Facebook. Fund-raising is going well thus far but the 48-year-old still requires further financial support from individuals and businesses.
Plans are also in place to hosts a spinathon and a powerlifting competition at Fit For Life as part of the fund-raising drive.