I am standing beside a stage in a dour village hall. When my name is called, I take a deep breath. I pace briskly up the stairs.

‘You’ve got this,’ I whisper.

I assume my position on the bench. If I make this lift, I will win silver in the English Bench Press Championships. The bar is handed to me. I lock my arms, the bar suspended above my chest. The weight feels comfortable, familiar from hours spent practising and perfecting in the gym. I know then that I am going to make the lift. The crowd is shouting as I press the bar upwards. Two white lights and a red flash up on the scoreboard, but the red doesn’t matter. I have won silver.

At 39, this was my last chance to win a national medal as a senior (the senior age group is 24 to 39-years-old). It was a goal I badly wanted to achieve and I put everything into attaining it. Two months before the competition, I began working with a strength coach. I also recruited a sports nutritionist as losing a pesky half-kilo before every competition has proved stressful and detrimental to my strength in the past.

Training for this competition was tough. My weekly workload in the gym more than doubled from four 45-minute sessions per week to four two-hour sessions. Adding the equivalent of a working day in the gym every week meant I had little or no free time.

Looking after my nutrition took effort and willpower. When I started my plan, I was hungry, irritable and struggled to find motivation. Surely it wasn’t necessary to start five weeks out if I only had two pounds to lose? However, as the weeks progressed, I could see I was getting leaner and stronger. The additional protein, vitamins and supplements were doing their job. Two weeks out from the competition, I hit a bench press personal best, shortly followed by another. I felt pumped and confident and, deep down, I knew the competition would go well.

Two days after the competition I received a surprise email. I have been invited to compete at the Commonwealth Games in Canada in September. To represent my country in an international competition is beyond my wildest dreams and I’m not sure it will sink in until my flight is booked.

Exciting times ahead!