Breaking records and saving lives
The story of paramedic and reigning All England u84kg champion Nicola Stimpson.
Nicola came to powerlifting after a long and successful hockey career. The first time she touched a barbell was during a strength and conditioning class with her now coach Logan Usher of Apex Strength & Performance. At the time she had no idea how strong she was but training alongside some other successful strength athletes and some gentle encouragement made her open her eyes to her potential. Nicola Took part in her first competition after a few months of training lifting as a guest in the 2016 south west open. She lifted well and qualified for the upcoming British and All England championships.
After this great start to what was sure to be a promising lifting career Nicola got pregnant and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. This led to a 2 year hiatus from the sport whilst Nicola adjusted to life as a mother. Nicola gradually reintroduced some powerlifting as she settled back into a rhythm of juggling her responsibilities as a parent and returning to work as a paramedic. From there Nicola has continued to go from strength to strength in the sport, consistently improving her totals and claiming numerous records along the way. She is currently the holder of 1 British, 2 English and 3 regional records. 2019 was Nicolas most successful year to date as she won the All England championships and represented England in both the Commonwealth and Home nations championships.
Nicola felt her international debut was a bittersweet moment as she was thrilled to compete at this level and come away with a silver medal, however the time away from her family proved difficult and combined with the unknown of working with the national coaching team for the first time Nicola did not feel this was her best performance. She put this right when she was presented with the chance to compete for England again later in the year at the Home Nations championships. Nicola was glad to break the national squat record on this international stage and show the national coaching team that she can perform at the highest level.
With this continued success in mind people are astounded to know that all of this has been achieved while working as a paramedic and raising her son. If you ask Nicola how she keeps so many plates spinning she answers with the nonchalant confidence you would expect from someone that is clearly focused and expects nothing less than success; “I prioritize what I am trying to achieve at any given time and plan my weeks out accordingly.” While this may sound like a simple mantra to live by the application of this method can be not so straightforward. Nicola also agrees “I am really fortunate to have a supportive family to help me with my son, this frees me up to do the necessary training to compete at this level. I have been doing 3 sessions a week for a long time now so Logan and I work hard to make sure they are as efficient as possible. I know a lot of my fellow competitors are able to train more frequently than me so I try to bridge that gap by knowing that I am 100% focused for every second of my training.” Logan added, “Nicola knows that she is more than welcome to bring her son along to her training sessions as we love having him in the gym entertaining everyone and cheering people along. A lot of the people that train here have young children and it is always preferable that they bring their kids along with them rather than miss a session.” When asked about how her working life affects her training Nicola is again very direct “I just don’t allow myself to use that as an excuse to lower my own
If I work a 12-hour nightshift and it runs over, as my work often can, I still go straight to the gym if that’s when I am due to train.” she continued “I feel like our bodies can achieve so much more than we realise. I naturally look at situations and see solutions, not problems. I feel that today people quickly take the path of least resistance, one that is usually littered with excuses to why they cannot do things rather than how to reach their goals.” We asked Nicola what is the hardest thing about staying at the top of so many fields and she answered without hesitation “Mum guilt bothers me more than anything else. It is a constant battle with myself. On one hand I feel like I’m setting a good example to my son and showing him that you can achieve whatever you put your mind too. On the other hand, on days I have work and training I miss him hugely, although he’s usually having a great time with my parents and can’t wait to get back to them next time I’m due in the gym!”
Nicola is pushing as hard as ever in 2020 in hope of extending her records and putting herself into contention to be called up to represent Great Britain and get her hands on the coveted GB singlet.
All of us at British Powerlifting Magazine would like to join all of her family and team-mates in wishing this inspirational lady a successful 2020 and we look forward to seeing all of her hard work pay off both on and off of the platform.