When Robinson fresher Lauren Domfe joined the University Powerlifting Club in 2021, little did she know that she would be representing Great Britain at World Championship level just one year later. Now in her second year studying HSPS, Lauren is on her way to Istanbul to compete in the IPF University Powerlifting World Cup on 4 November.
The journey to Istanbul started when Lauren entered a gym aged sixteen, looking for some relief from her GCSE studies. "I really enjoyed weightlifting from the get-go," she said. "I started with barbells and dumbbells and I realised I wasn’t as weak as I probably should be as a beginner." When she came up to Cambridge, Lauren was looking forward to being able to spend more time training in the gym. Visiting the Sport Freshers' Fair, the Cambridge University Powerlifting Club caught her eye. There she found a supportive community as well as practical advice on how to train and progress.
A breakthrough came when club members were offered coaching slots for the upcoming Varsity trials. Keen to find out more about what competitive powerlifting entailed, Lauren was first offered a place on the reserve list, but then asked to compete following a team mate's injury. Victory over Oxford led to a place in the British University Championships, where Lauren came second in her category. Then, in August, Lauren received an email asking her to represent Great Britain at the World Championships.
Speaking of her selection, Lauren said: "I was so shocked, because, if I think about the timeline, I just started powerlifting in October and within a year I’m getting to World Championships. And self-doubt plays a really big part in sports - in sports where you really have to exert yourself and the performance is down to you, it's not like a team-based sport, it’s like your own individual performance. There are good days and bad days in training but I'm feeling quite confident now, so we’ll see how it goes."
Although currently focussed on competition training, Lauren is keen to emphasise the wider benefits of the sport. "The impact it's had on my mental health, I feel like especially in the pressured environment of Cambridge, you cannot underestimate doing something physically exerting to make you feel happier. And going to the gym doesn’t necessarily mean you have to lift weights. You can just walk on the treadmill. You do what makes you feel better."
Photo: White Lights Media