I was totally prepared for my first international competition. I trained up to 8 hours a week and worked on my mobility for up to 3 hours. Zero downtime between the English Bench Press Championships and qualifying for the Commonwealth Games meant I tracked macros and calories for five months to ensure my weight didn’t go over the cut-off 57kgs.

On my first day in St John’s, Canada I had a peek at the hotel conference suite where the competition would take place. The cavernous hall was abuzz with athletes and coaches, their multicoloured tracksuits emblazoned with their home countries. The stage was brightly lit and strung with flags, TV cameras poised to capture the action. I felt a stab of anxiety and retreated back to my hotel room.

The day of the competition I clocked in at a light 54.2kg. Back in England my weight had been a stable 56kg, but nervous energy had turned my body into a calorie incinerator. That blueberry doughnut the previous day hadn’t made a blind bit of difference. I was vexed by my weight, but I was in a better position than the girls whose weight was borderline and had made it to the late afternoon with nothing to eat or drink.

In the warm up room I shunted my body through a series of stretches. The compere’s booming voice from the stage beyond gave the impression of many failed lifts. With my low body weight and starting a cold, I wasn’t feeling my best. I decided to play it safe and aim for an equal personal best.

When the call came, the lifters lined up behind the stage, hands dusted with chalk and jaws chewing frantically on Gummy Bears. My first lifts were a solid 65 and 67.5kgs. Three white lights and no worries. My last lift of 70kg was more problematic. The bar seemed to drop heavily onto my chest during the descent and I couldn’t press it up. The bronze medal was mine, but I was disappointed to lift less than I was capable of. When a coach told me a spotter had released the bar too early and I had to retake, I took a deep breath and refocused.

I lay on the bench and the spotters released the bar. 70kg is a familiar weight and I knew I would get it. The press was ugly and my form sucked, but it was a good lift. I could step onto the podium knowing I’d got close to my best.

Powerlifting holds up a mirror to every facet of your personality, whether you want to see it or not. My drive and will to succeed during training is exceptional, but my lack of self-belief when under pressure comes close to sabotaging my efforts. Awareness and experience will help lessen my anxiety and prevent me from spiralling into negative thought patterns. Getting nutrition support will teach me more about eating for optimal strength and ensure I feel pumped rather than depleted during competition.

Next year I will be 40 and move into the master lifting category. I have a realistic chance of a podium finish at the British Bench Press Championships and more invites to compete internationally.

I’ll be ready.