Tracy Lee Stark

By Tracy Lee Stark

Photographer and Multimedia Producer

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A ten-year-old girl beat adults from around the UK to win the top prize at a national strongwoman contest by lifting THREE times her own weight.

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Aeryn-Ejjina Atkinson got into lifting after watching her dad do the sport, and she built a Lego barbell to convince her parents to let her hit the gym.

The Olympic hopeful trains twice a day and scored a place at a national competition, performing a series of different lifts and exercises.

She won first place in the silver dollar deadlift, by being the lightest person to heave three times their body weight – 96 kilos in her case.

The 4ft 6in tough cookie also did a 22.5kg log press – lifting weights off her shoulders straight above her head – to get a new personal best.

Aeryn, from Telford, Shropshire, said: “I feel proud and I’m excited for my next competition.

“I dream of being in the Olympics, but I didn’t think I’d be doing this at age ten.

“I wasn’t expecting to get into strong woman but once I saw it I knew it was my thing.

Determined Aeryn built herself a barbell out of Lego aged seven when dad Craig, 40, and admin-worker mum Melody, 4, were hesitant to let her start lifting weights.

Inspired by her dad’s thrice-weekly workout, and watching the sport on TV, she trained every day in a bid to be more like her hero Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

Eventually her parents gave in and found her a proper instructor.

Now she does at least two hours training a day, starting at 5am while her parents and brother Jovan, 11, are asleep, with a second session after her homework is done.

She said: “The Rock gets up at five so I thought I’d try it.

“I started doing it and then it’s just a habit that I’ve got into. I enjoy it but sometimes I get really tired, then I normally tell myself ‘you did this yesterday so you can do it again.’ And I can.

“I’ll never give it up.”

Aeryn was invited to take part as a guest lifter in the competition by fitness company Oak Strength, in Gloucester, on Sunday August 22.At the competition – her first ever – she heaved a 96-kilo barbell off the floor, using a semi-squatting motion similar to a dead lift, beating all other six contestants because of her weight.

The challenge is called the silver dollar lift because it used to be undertaken with two buckets of silver dollar coins on the ends of a metal bar.

She also carried a 65kg barbell across the back of her shoulders, lugging it a full 15 metres in 32 seconds, to come fifth in an event called the yolk walk.

Dad Craig, a writer, said: “I don’t think you’ll find a crazier ten year old, but you won’t find one more dedicated either.

No matter how many times we say ‘you’re not going to do that, it’s crazy’, she’ll always find a way.

“A lot of people have the misconception that young people shouldn’t lift but in many countries it’s a national sport.

“It’s all about training with people qualified to look after her as she develops so she learns to lift safely.

“If you do the right technique you’re okay, and properly trained people won’t let you lift unless you’re doing it properly.

“We’re really proud of her, and slightly scared.

“Any time there’s something needs doing that requires strength like opening a pickled onion jar it’s Aeryn’s job.

“We’ve got to make use of all those muscles.”

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