When Gemma Ferguson was spotted flexing her muscles in a Haywards Heath gym her life changed ‘massively’.
Now, the 33-year-old, of Stonefield Way, Burgess Hill, competes in strongwoman competitions across the world.
But this December, she is to compete in her biggest one yet – World’s Strongest Woman 2018.
She said: “In August I was notified that the 2018 Official Strongman Games for World’s Strongest Woman were holding its annual online qualifier and I thought what the hell do I have to lose – let’s do it!
“We had to submit three videos for three categories given to us by the organisers. These were a max deadlift, a log clean, floor press, and a farmer’s carry. I had to pick my maximum weights for each, video them and submit my evidence online.
“The top 20 from each category would be selected to compete in World’s Strongest Woman in North Carolina, America, this December.
“Well, I found out I qualified! I am still in shock – I didn’t think my strength was up there but it obviously is – I am feeling a little bit nervous, but I am excited.”
Gemma will fly out to Raleigh, in North Carolina, on December 6, to compete for the world title.
She is now trying to raise funds to get there as it is self funded and she does not have any sponsors.
Gemma, who was previously in the army, was spotted at Fitz Gym in Bolney, where she now runs a weekly strongman club.
She said: “I got into the sport two years ago. I joined the gym and started weight training and someone noticed I was quite strong and asked if I wanted to take part in a competition in Worthing.
“From then, my life changed massively, and it keeps me fit and healthy, physically and mentally. And I have found something I enjoy – it has given me this massive passion and I just love it.”
Feeling ‘deflated’ after not doing as well as she wanted when the competition season finished last year, Gemma set a goal of losing three stone, while still maintaining her strength, which she achieved.
She said she wants to raise more awareness of the sport. ”I’m not sure many women in particular are aware of what the sport is and how amazingly empowering it is,” she added.
People who would like to sponsor Gemma on her trip can email Fergie_gemma@hotmail.co.uk.