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Saturday 26 June marked the date for one of the most important weight lifting qualifying events for the 2022 Commonwealth Games – The British Weight Lifting Championships. TeamUCL elite athlete and medical student, Deborah Alawode, put in a magnificent performance to claim Gold in the Women’s 76kg weight class. She lifted a Personal Best combined weight of 204kg and another Personal Best of 117kg Clean & Jerk to beat her competition to first place. We managed to catch up with Debbie following her event:

How was your preparation for the British Championships? Was COVID just another factor to consider in the build up to the event?

My preparation for the British Champs, for the most part, went really well. As a Medical Student, I was able to get vaccinated earlier than most people my age, so we weren’t too worried about me contracting COVID. I just made sure to continue following the guidelines. However, what threw a spanner in the works was me injuring my wrist 4 weeks before the competition. This is a recurring injury my coach and I have been dealing with since February, and it always seems to crop up 3-4 weeks before a competition. We put preventative measures in place, with the help of my physio, to make sure it didn’t happen again before this competition, but sadly they didn’t quite work. After an MRI and a lengthy discussion with my doctor, I was given the all clear to go ahead with the competition, but it took a lot of ibuprofen and paracetamol…

How did you feel the day went? Obviously a total weight PB, you must be very pleased with those numbers?

The day went a lot better than I imagined it would, despite the nausea and the loss of appetite that I had in the days leading up to the competition and whilst I was actually competing! This was my first in-person competition since December 2019, and it was also the first qualification event for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, so I really wanted to lift well, and show the progress my coach and I have made. I hadn’t done any heavy snatches or jerks for a few weeks, so although I knew I was strong enough to hit the numbers I had in mind, I was also aware that our final preparation wasn’t quite the way we’d imagined it would be. To have become the new British Senior Champion, along with achieving a clean and jerk PB of 117kg AND a total PB of 204kg, and to narrowly miss out on a snatch PB, was absolutely wonderful.

Do you think this result will give you a lot of confidence moving forward?

Definitely! It has shown me that I am capable of much more than I thought, and it has put me in a great position in the Team England Commonwealth Games rankings.

What plans do you have in the short term and long term future?

The main short term plan is to sort out my wrist, which will involve giving it some time to settle down, and then reviewing any technical errors that are causing the injury to keep recurring. In the long-term, the plan is to continuing working hard so I put myself in the best position to be selected for the Commonwealth Games.

Congratulations Debbie on a brilliant performance and well deserved success! We wish you all the best in your bid to be selected for Team England at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.