So, I’ve finally done it. I entered a powerlifting competition… and I won a medal. I’ve wanted to enter a competition since I started weight training seven years ago. Problem is, nerves always got the better of me. I remember when one of the powerlifters at my old gym broached the subject of me entering a competition.

‘Oh, I couldn’t possibly do that,’ I said. ‘I’d be too nervous. I’d let myself down.’

However, a couple of months ago I decided to give it a go. I’m a good lifter, so I should show the world what I can do. I got myself an amazing trainer (an ex-marine and European powerlifting champion) and set my sights on qualifying for the British Powerlifting Championships in November.

My first competition was the GPC Southern Qualifier at Genesis Gym in Wembley. I was competing in the under 60kg weight category and I needed a total of 260kg for my three lifts (squat, bench press and deadlift) to qualify for the British Championships.

Powerlifting is not a pretty sport. The competition took place in a small barbell-filled gym packed with enormous men. I was the only person without a tattoo. I had to wear a singlet, an all-in-one leotard, which is possibly the most unflattering garment I’ve ever had about my person.

The squat was my first lift – my nemesis. Everything felt heavy during warm up, maybe because it was 9.30am. I usually make a point of never lifting anything heavier than a cup of coffee before 1pm.

When my name was called, I was terrified. My opening lift was 75kg, a doddle in training, but in competition conditions and under the watchful eye of a judge taking a judging exam, it was a different matter. I made it, but only just. My next lift was 85kg.

I waited through the round and was floored by some of the competition. A tiny girl lifting in my weight category opened on 130kg. At a petite and feminine 58kg, she was living proof that intense weight training does not make women bulk up.

It was my turn again… I attempted 85kg, but the red light went on. The squat was just a few millimetres too high from being allowed. I had one final try.

As I approached the bar, my legs felt like jelly.

‘Sit down into it, Emma,’ my coach hissed into my ear. ‘You’re panicking.’

I took a deep breath and went for it. It was a good attempt, but the red light went on again. Another near miss.

My under performance in the squat meant I had to hit my personal bests in the other two lifts. Luckily, I’m better at bench presses and deadlifts. My opening bench press was 50kg. I was calmer now and I made it easily. Thirty seconds before my second attempt, an official approached me;

‘You need to wear a t-shirt to compete,’ he said.

What? I never knew about this! After a mad dash around the spectators, I managed to find an oversized t-shirt and threw it on.

‘It needs to be under your singlet,’ the official told me.

Eek – I had to perform a minor striptease in front of the bruisers – the humiliation! I was quite cross now, but the adrenaline helped me make 60kg. I was actually giving Squat Girl a run for her money in this round.

My last attempt was 65kg. I’d done it a few times in training, but this was going to be tough. I pressed the bar half way above my chest, but it got stuck in mid air. On to the deadlift…

The first two attempts were easy; 110kg and 115kg, but I was going to have to go all out on my last attempt if I wanted to qualify for the British finals. I approached the bar loaded with 125kg and tried to psyche myself up.

‘You can do this,’ I told myself.

The bar moved a few millimetres up my shins, but it wasn’t going to be my day. I was just 10kgs off qualifying for the British finals.

For a first competition I did myself justice and I’ve proved I can hold my own against some of the best lifters in the country. I’m back in training now for my next competition in August and I’m intending to smash that 260kgs. Watch this space…