It’s not often you find a Team England athlete who competes in beauty pageants in her spare time, but Sarah Davies bucks the trend when it comes to weightlifting.
The Preston-born former beauty queen is not only an inspiration to young women, she is a real medal prospect as she prepares for Gold Coast 2018 with a series of impressive performances so far in 2017.
And after a disappointing Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, where she felt she let the occasion get the best of her, Sarah is desperate to make amends in Australia.
She said: “The Glasgow 2014 Games was quite surreal. I was unbelievably nervous and overwhelmed.
“I was a gymnast when I was younger and I remember watching the Manchester Commonwealth Games growing up in Lancashire and thinking, ‘I want to do that and compete for England at a Commonwealth Games’.
“And then I stopped doing gymnastics and thought, ‘That dream’s gone, I’m never going to be able to do it again’. In 2011 I started weightlifting and to have qualified for a Games within two years of training was quite surreal and I found myself in Glasgow two and a half years later in front of 2,000 people at essentially a home Games.
“Deer in the headlights was the right saying for me then. I felt like I was going to burst into tears the whole way through, it was just so overwhelming.
“I could have seen the best sports psychologist in the world and it wouldn’t have prepared me for those emotions.
“I massively underperformed at those Games from what I was capable of at the time. I’ve learnt a lot from that about preparing for competitions and my international competitions have gone a lot better since then.”
After a stress fracture earlier in the year which halted Sarah’s progress, she has returned to her best form after achieving personal best at the European Championships.
She said: “I did the English Championships at the start of the year which I won, but with steady numbers.
“Then I went to the European Championships and we’ve now got the British Championships so hopefully there’s more personal bests there and that’s a big Commonwealth Games qualification event for us.
“It’s going well. I can’t complain.”
Currently second in the world rankings for the 63kg weight category, Sarah knows that with the right preparation a gold medal is a real possibility.
She said: “After the British Championships, if I perform in line with what I’ve been doing in training, I could be ranked first which, in itself, gives you a bit of a confidence boost and you enjoy the stage even more.
“I’m looking forward to putting some demons to bed from the last Games with my performance. I’m going there for a gold medal and to stand on top of the rostrum.”
Alongside her weightlifting duties for Team England, Sarah also performs in beauty pageants and wants more girls to enjoy a healthier body image.
She said: “I do pageants as well as weightlifting so it kind of breaks the stereotype as well I guess. When I’m doing it, people ask, ‘How do I get a bum like yours?’
“The media perception of women is changing as well. It’s less about being really skinny, less the 80’s supermodel look. People want a more muscular, curved figure and the only way to do that is by lifting weights.
“So ignore the naysayers and get down the gym!”