This was my best performance in a competition so far – by a mile. I equalled a personal best and got the highest total of all female lifters. I think I’ve finally learned to channel my competition nerves and achieve the numbers I can do in the gym.

The competition was a British Powerlifting ‘push ‘n’ pull’ in Sittingbourne, Kent. A push and pull is two lifts (bench and deadlift). No squat which is my least favourite lift – yay!

I decided to compete with the British Powerlifting Federation, rather than GPC because they’re considered most stringent, they drug test, and I could compete in the standard under 57kg weight category, rather than under 56kg. My weight hovers around 57kg, so getting under 56 requires a cut. I left it too late at my last comp and had to endure a thoroughly unpleasant fast and extended sauna to make weight.

No such nastiness this time. My boyfriend and I made a weekend of it in Kent and had a slap up meal at the Harvester the night before. Lovely jubbly!

My lifting has been going great in the gym, so I was keen to do well in Kent. Despite the 30-degree heat and 6.30am start, I was feeling good in warm up. I went into the bench press focused and determined.

The spotter helped me lift the bar from the rack and I was ready to go.

‘Stop!’ The referee shouted. ‘Rack the bar.’

What had I done? My heart was racing, panic rising in my chest.

‘Your feet must be flat on the floor,’ said the ref.

Ah, new federation – new rules. That was easily fixed.

I got three good bench presses with no failed attempts: 57.5kg, 60kg and 62.5kg. As the top female lifter, I was at the end of the running order and the crowd really got behind me. Their support was such a boost.

The deadlift went like a dream: 117.5kg, 122.5kg and the big 130kg (an equal personal best). I couldn’t have been happier.

This competition was a pleasure rather than an endurance test. My competitors were kind and friendly and the competition was well organised, making the day less stressful. In past competitions, I’ve been overwhelmed by nerves or let myself down. Now, my confidence has soared.

I cannot wait to compete again.