Sometimes I feel like my life is a just a neverending pursuit of strength – always close enough to taste but never within my grasp (a bit like a horse with a carrot). Goals are a big thing for me. I can’t figure out my age when it started, but I remember feeling extremely compelled every time I’d picture my goals- the squeamish feeling of a full body itch. If you can remember the feeling of going to sleep before your birthday, the trembling, nervous, sickly excitement – that’s what it feels like. You’ve probably felt it before when you think about a passion of yours – perhaps a goal, a fond memory or hobby, a love, or even a childhood dream. Now that I look back on the actions I took to bring me closer to my ambitions and satisfy this craving at a young age, from other’s eyes I probably looked very strange, maybe a touch absurd. But really… what the heck is sensible about being normal??
I have always been a very passionate person, and loved passionate people. Why put in 80% to something if you can put in 100%? And on that note, why even bother with a task if you’re not willing to put in the 100%? Authenticity, the need to see things through to completion, and relentless progression, I think, are 3 qualities of the highest regard. Since discovering powerlifting, and working with some of the best athletes in Australia and even the world, these three qualities are often what set apart athletes as being more or less successful. In fact, you should be able to see how they define success in any field.
Why put in 80% to something if you can put in 100%?
Growing up, I had a doctor dad, physio mum, and three older brothers. I experienced a lot of things that I thought were normal, but actually weren’t. I have early memories of electrotherapy on my feet, to relieve excruciating pain through my legs. To avoid painfully sleepless nights I wore special shoes for school to fit my orthotics, and had permanent knee, ankle and shoulder taping in early primary school to relieve tendinitis or prevent spontaneous knee dislocations. Dislocations, tendinitis, impingement, tension headaches and unexplained pains have never surprised me. Years later, I found out I had Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and although there’s no cure, everything finally made sense. With EDS, to put it simply, your joints are falling apart from birth due to faulty collagen.
I was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome where basically your joints are falling apart from birth
Internet forums and online sources have shown me how rare it is to find an EDS patient who competes in sport at national level or above. So far, around the world, I’ve found 2. I’ve also learnt that self-awareness of chronic illnesses can cause crippling mentalities, and particularly when pain is involved, high levels of anxiety and depression. Combined with frequent dislocations, autoimmune dysfunction, cardiovascular complications, weak internal systems and severely delayed healing, these factors often to lead to an inevitable fate being morphine and/or wheelchair bound once a patient hits 30.
I’m so glad I got my EDS diagnosis as late as I did- by the time I was diagnosed at age 20, I already had 7 years of weights training, 1 year of rugby league, 12 powerlifting competitions and 2 strong(wo)man competitions under my belt, as well as holding multiple National, Commonwealth and Oceania powerlifting records. By this stage I had already collected a torn meniscus, tendinitis in both shoulders, more dislocated knees, shoulders and ankles than I can count, and several other “uncategorised” injuries (almost all unrelated to my sport). But most importantly– the timing of my diagnosis meant that I hadn’t grown to suffer under the knowledge of my condition or set boundaries for my abilities based on a medical diagnosis. When I tell people about my history, they often say “how did you overcome so much?”, to this I have to reply “I just lived my normal life”.
By the time I was diagnosed at age 20, I already had 7 years of weights training, 1 year of rugby league, 12 powerlifting competitions (8 gold medals) and 2 strong(wo)man competitions under my belt, as well as holding multiple National, Commonwealth and Oceania powerlifting records.
Since my diagnosis, I have competed in and won 3 National Powerlifting Championships, become the first powerlifter in Australia to win Triple Crown (first place states, nationals and ProRaw International Invitational in the one year), set an all time Australian Record at under 70kg, totalled 472.5kg and my competition count now tallies to 18 comps with 14 gold and 3 silver medals (damn that one that got away!). I am nowhere near where I want to be and have many more things I need to achieve. I am reaching out to some of the top medical professionals internationally to fuel all the goals I haven’t yet achieved. All those goals that I can taste but not quite reach…
I have competed in and won 3 National Powerlifting Championships, become the first powerlifter in Australia to win Triple Crown, set an all time Australian Record at under 70kg, totalled 472.5kg and my competition count now tallies to 18 comps with 14 gold and 3 silver medals
Everyone has a story to tell of something they’ve overcome, this is mine. It’s definitely not a “turned my life around story”, more of a “bulldog relentlessly holding onto a toy even when they’re losing story”. If someone ever tells you that you can’t do anything, my advice is to give them the sassy finger then go and do it.