Commonwealth Games weightlifter hopes to be a role model for girls in strength sports

Eight years ago, Jodey Hughes was just an average gym goer.

Now the Strathaven weightlifter is set to embark on a second Commonwealth Games.

At 39, the civil servant knows that she arrived late for the party but she is determined to inspire the next generation to take the step towards strength sports.

The Canadian-born athlete admits a lack of role models had stopped her from getting involved earlier, and hopes her story of moving from regular CrossFit classes in East Kilbride to big stages in the Gold Coast in 2018 and now in Birmingham in 2022 will light the fire in others.

Hughes, who finally decided to try his hand at weightlifting after watching the 2014 Games in Glasgow, said: “What has been really nice over the last four or five years is that we see more and more women practice strength sports.

“When I started, the lack of that was one of the things that made me think about not doing it.

“I didn’t have any positive female role models I could look up to in that sense.

“What really gets me going is when I see girls in the gym lifting heavy weights because it’s something I’ve never had the confidence to do before.

“So hopefully I can be a little inspirational to people now.

Her Gold Coast Games experience has made Jodey determined to medal in 2022

“When I was younger, I was terrible at sports and a bit of a bookworm.

“My older cousin Tasha, who I really looked up to, was an ice hockey player.

“I grew up in Canada and at that time girls didn’t really play ice hockey so I really looked up to him and started playing ice hockey at the age of 12 because of ‘she.

“I was really terrible at it, but having that at that age and something to prove, trying to fit in and being good like my cousin was, that’s really taught me a lot over the last few years. weightlifting.

“I’m not naturally good at it, but I try really hard. I will work more than everyone and I do in my weightlifting.

“Weightlifting isn’t something I thought I could do, so the more girls doing it, the more it encourages others.

“And I guess that goes to show that even if you’re a bit older or you’re female, you can still be successful.”

Hughes is a two-time silver medalist at the British Weightlifting Championships, having had success on both sides of the pandemic in events in 2019 and 2022, and she will be aiming for a medal at the Games in July in the weightlifting category. 55 kg.

She finished ninth in the 59kg event in Australia four years ago but qualified for the Games fifth at 55kg, giving her confidence that she can step onto the podium.

This confidence, however, was not easy to find.

Hughes says she suffered from impostor syndrome – believing that you aren’t as competent as others perceive you at something – but working with a mental coach enabled her to think positively.

She explained, “It’s really strange to be on a stage. Going from training in my hangar where I barely have enough room to put the bar above my head, to a giant stage can be difficult.

Jodey Hughes celebrates a successful lift in the snatch discipline during the Women’s Weightlifting 58kg on day two of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games

“Sometimes you feel like the stage is swallowing you up, so I have a lot of experience now on the big stage and I’ve worked a lot on that.

“I suffered a bit from impostor syndrome where I was like ‘I’m just here to catch up on the numbers’ or ‘I’m not good enough to be here, I didn’t deserve it’.

“But I’ve done a lot of work with my mental coach just to change that mindset to be that ‘I absolutely deserve it, I’ve worked hard’ and that mental edge is what really makes the difference for me now. .

“I qualified for the Games in fifth place, so there could be a chance of a medal this time.

“Fifth isn’t that far away and I’m planning on doing a double clean and jerk, which would be really good.

“A medal is a realistic goal. Everything can happen.”

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Hughes moved to Scotland in 2006 after meeting her husband Paul while hiking in Australia during a break from his university entomology course.

The Canadian twang from her days in her hometown of Oromocto, New Brunswick is still here, but she will be a proud Scot when she represents her adopted nation in Birmingham.

Jodey Hughes will represent Scotland in Birmingham this summer

She said: ‘I met my husband Paul in Australia and he brought me back to East Kilbride. We lived there until just before the pandemic when we moved to Strathaven.

“I’m so lucky to have moved there before Covid, otherwise I wouldn’t have had a place to train through it all.

“Where I was previously in East Kilbride would not have been ideal, but in the new house we have a hangar which I have converted into a gym so I was able to train on Covid.

“I didn’t have the chance to grow up in Scotland, but I would have liked to have had it.

“I know I have a Canadian accent, but I’ve been living here for 16 years now. I feel Scottish, this is my home now and I can’t wait to get on this stage.

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Rebecca R. Santistevan