The IPF Juniors & Masters National Championships finished earlier in the month with DCU’s Aoife O’Sullivan placing first in the female U23.
O’Sullivan is a member of DCU Powerlifting and set 3 new Junior national records.
She talked on the result and said “It felt absolutely deadly. That was my final competition competing as a junior competitor so to leave the juniors with the squat record, deadlift record and overall total record is a pretty deadly feeling. It’s the best feeling in the world when hard work pays off.”
“I’m always driving myself to become stronger and when the results show I’m literally on cloud 9!,” O’Sullivan said.
“It’s been tough with training the last few months as I’m working almost a full time job while doing my masters so dragging myself to the gym late at night has been a struggle to say the least. All those late nights training paid off for sure.”
“Unfortunately I have been training pretty much fully alone for the last few months since starting my masters and the job. I had two training sessions with my coach about a week and a half out from the competition.
“When you have a crazy busy schedule you have to just fit training in when it suits you and make the time for it yourself,” O’Sullivan told The College View.
The big issue here for her was the lack of accompanying guidance during a session.
“Not having my coach there to tell me what I am doing wrong was a big bummer. Also training did become quite difficult at times when you have nobody there to push you during those sessions when the gym is the last place you want to me.
“I really had to dig deep to find the motivation during those hard training sessions. Not being able to see my coach over the last few months has definitely affected my progress,” O’Sullivan said.
“Progress has most definitely been slower than it should be and what I would like it to be as a result. Nonetheless I have still been improving and that’s all that matters.
“I really would love to get out to the group training’s but sadly I just cannot fit it in 99% of the time. My masters and job are my priority right now,” O’Sullivan said.
The difficult preparation wasn’t the only speed bump for O’Sullivan, she also suffered an injury in the lead up to the competition.
“I was actually injured going into nationals which I just competed in approximately two weeks ago. I got three bad falls on the same knee (very unfortunate) approx three weeks before the competition.
“Pretty sure I fell once on each separate week. Let’s just say I’m rather clumsy! I was literally limping on one leg about 9 days out from the competition and didn’t think I would be able to compete.”
“I went for a few physio sessions and got some dry needling done and that definitely helped a bit. The knee miraculously held up on the day,” O’Sullivan said.
“I think there was so much adrenaline running through my body that it almost mentally blocked out the pain. Also two years ago I was meant to travel to South Africa for the World University Powerlifting Championships but I had to pull out last minute due to a back injury.”
“The injury was totally self inflicted as I had done a severe cut for a competition and was extremely dehydrated. As a result some of the muscles in my back ended up spasming up and it was not pretty to say the least.
“I also had a stubborn lingering ankle injury that affected me for a while but that sort of went away on its own accord. Thankfully other than that I have been lucky enough that I have avoided most major injuries.”
Despite the recent success, O’Sullivan has realised the act of juggling the competitive element of power-lifting with work and college.
“To be honest the extremely competitive side of the sport is over for me. Any competitions I do from now on will just be to see where I am at with my own training. I will continue to lift more so for my own enjoyment now more than anything.”
“Moving up to the seniors is a different ball game altogether and unless you have a lifestyle that allows you to devote the time that you need to training and also to go and train in a team environment, then excelling at senior level is extremely difficult.
“I had an absolute heap of fun in my time as a junior and I am extremely grateful for every opportunity that arose, but for now I am at a different stage in my life where I have to prioritise work and my masters.”
While she won’t be competing any time soon, O’Sullivan intends to keep up her passion until she returns.
“I have been invited to compete at Nationals as a senior competitor next year but I have turned down the invite as I will not have time to train properly for it.
“I also have a lot of imbalances that I need to work on so I am now taking a bit of an off season to work on those.
“All going well (work and masters wise) I intend on doing Intervarsities next year so I’m really looking forward to that. It’s always great to compete for your university.”
“Powerlifting is more so a lifestyle for me than anything. It helps me keep structure in my week and allows me to always ensure I take time out of my day to focus purely on myself.”
Image Credit: Irish Powerlifting Federation / IPF