This competition is one of the best things I’ve ever done. Not because I won a medal. I came agonisingly close to a bronze. But because of the belief it has given me in myself.

I nearly didn’t compete in the British Championships. I’ve been so busy with work and, when a bout of cellulitis in my foot put my training behind, I wondered whether it’d be easier to forget the whole thing. However, excuses never got anyone anywhere. I’d worked hard all year to qualify for this competition, so I decided to man up and go for it.

I trained myself for these championships and had been putting in good numbers in the gym. It wasn’t easy juggling work, social life and five weekly training sessions and I was unusually stressed in the run up to the competition. The night before weigh-in, I didn’t sleep well and I wondered again if it was worth it.

I woke up groggy, but had an hour’s drive to weigh-in on an empty stomach (no water even), before I could get some brekkie and a coffee. Luckily, I made my weight.

On the day, I was a different person. I was positive, even calm. Despite the early start, I was alert and my brother’s advice to carb-up the night before had given me energy. Eating chocolate biscuit cake and gummy bears throughout the day was no hardship either. It was to feed the muscles, you understand!

The squat round went like a dream. Unlike previous competitions, I had no failed lifts and I finished the round on 90kg – a personal best in competition.

In bench press, a silly mistake cost me my first lift. I made 60kg easily, but it was a fail because I didn’t wait for the command. I decided to gamble and go up to 62.5kg, but I only had two attempts to stay in the competition. I was pacing like a caged bear as I waited to lift again.

I made 62.5kg and then my third lift of 65kg. Again, it was my best performance in competition. I was half crying, half laughing with relief as I stepped off the podium.

Going into the deadlift round, I was in third place. Only 2.5kg separated me and the girl in fourth. I checked our opening lifts on the score sheet and saw my rival was opening with 110kg deadlift, whereas I was starting with 105kg. This could be close.

I was feeling strong and the barbell seemed to come off the ground easily. I finished on 117.5kg – another personal best in competition. However, my rival was also having a good day and her 127.5kg deadlift meant I missed the bronze by 7.5kg.

Perhaps if I’d been a bit braver in the deadlift round, I might have tied for bronze. However, I was absolutely exhilarated after the competition. This was my first year of competing in powerlifting and I was fourth in Britain! It was the first time I’d done myself proud under pressure and it’s given me belief I can lift more and get stronger.

It’s easy to lose faith when you’re training alone in the gym. I’ve been lifting weights for years and, on bad days, I feel like I’m going round in circles. However, this competition has taught me that pushing myself beyond my comfort zone will bring more rewards than I can imagine. It’s cold and dark outside, but I’m training with renewed vigour and belief, rather than going through the motions. I cannot wait to compete again.