Commonwealth Games weightlifter hoping to be role model for girls in strength sports

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Eight years ago Jodey Hughes was just an average gym-goer.

Now the Strathaven weightlifter is about to embark on a second Commonwealth Games.

At 39-years-old, the civil servant knows she arrived late to the party but she is determined to inspire the next generation to take the step into strength sports.

The Canadian-born athlete admits a lack of role models had prevented her from getting involved earlier, and hopes her story of going from regular CrossFit classes in East Kilbride to the grand stages of Gold Coast in 2018 and now Birmingham in 2022 will light the fire in others.

Hughes, who finally decided to give weightlifting a go after watching the 2014 Games in Glasgow, said: “What has been really nice over the last four or five years is we are seeing more women picking up strength-type sports.

“When I first started, the lack of that was one of the things that made me think about not doing it.

“I didn’t have any positive female role models that I could look up to in that sense.

“What really motivates me is when I see girls in the gym lifting heavy weights because that is something that I never had the confidence to do before.

“So hopefully I can be a bit inspiring to people now.



Her experience of the Gold Coast Games has made Jodey determined to medal in 2022

“When I was younger I was terrible at sports and a little bit of a bookworm.

“My older cousin Tasha, who I really looked up to, was an ice-hockey player.

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“I grew up in Canada and at that time girls didn’t really play ice hockey so I really looked up to her and I started playing ice hockey when I was 12 because of her.

“I was really terrible at it, but having that at that age and something to prove, trying to fit in and be good like my cousin was, that’s really taught me a lot over the last few years of weightlifting.

“I’m not naturally gifted at it – but I try really hard. I will out-work everyone out there and I do that in my weightlifting.

“Weightlifting is not something I thought I’d ever be able to do, so the more and more girls that are doing it, the more it encourages others.

“And I suppose it shows even if you are a bit older, or you are a female, you can still be successful at it.”

Hughes is a two-time British Weightlifting Championships silver medalist, having enjoyed success either side of the pandemic in the 2019 and 2022 events, and she will be targeting a medal at the Games in July in the 55kgs category.

She finished ninth in the 59kgs event in Australia four years ago but qualified for the Games in fifth-place at 55kgs, which gives her the belief she can break into the podium places.

That confidence hasn’t been easy to come by however.

Hughes says she suffered from imposter-syndrome – believing you are not as competent as other perceive you to be at something – but working with a mental coach has allowed her to think positively.

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She explained: “It’s really strange being on a stage. Going from training in my shed where I barely have enough room to put the bar over my head, to a giant stage can be tough.



Jodey Hughes celebrates a successful lift in the snatch discipline during the Women’s Weightlifting 58kg on day two of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games

“Sometimes you feel like the stage just swallows you up so I’ve got lots of experience now on the big stage and I’ve done a lot of work on that.

“I suffered a bit from imposter-syndrome where I was like ‘I’m just here to make up the numbers’ or ‘I’m not good enough to be here, I haven’t earned it’.

“But I’ve been doing a lot of work with my mental coach just to change that mindset to be that ‘I absolutely deserve this, I’ve worked hard’ and that mental edge is what’s really making a difference to me now.

“I’ve qualified for the Games in fifth place so there could be a chance of a medal this time.

“Fifth is not that far off and I’m planning on doing a double bodyweight clean and jerk, which would be really nice.

“A medal is a realistic goal. Anything can happen.”

More sports news from across Lanarkshire

Hughes moved to Scotland in 2006 after meeting her now husband Paul while backpacking in Australia during a break from her University course studying entomology.

The Canadian twang from her days in hometown Oromocto, New Brunswick is still there, but she will be one proud Scot when she represents her adopted nation in Birmingham.

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Jodey Hughes will represent Team Scotland in Birmingham this summer

She said: “I met my husband Paul over in Australia and he brought me back to East Kilbride. We lived there until just before the pandemic when we moved out to Strathaven.

“I’m so lucky I moved there before Covid, otherwise I wouldn’t have had a place to train through all of this.

“Where I was before in East Kilbride wouldn’t have been ideal, but at the new house we have a shed that I converted into a gym so I was able to train over Covid.

“I wasn’t fortunate enough to grow up in Scotland, but I wish I had.

“I know I have a Canadian accent, but that’s 16 years I’ve lived here now. I do feel Scottish, this is my home now and I’m looking forward to getting out there on that stage.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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