GAINSBOROUGH’S golden girl Megan Ainsworth has good reason to smile - she has just become a world champion powerlifter.
The former Trent Valley Academy student (pictured), who has cerebral palsy, beat able-bodied contenders at the International Powerlifting Federations’s women’s bench press world championships.
The competition, in Pilsen, Czech Republic, saw tiny Megan, 19, lift a weight of 65kg – smashing the British record and her own personal best.
Weighing in at just 38.6 kilos, she defeated Russians Anastasia Kulikova and Ekaterina Alikina in the junior 43 kilogram competition.
The victory marks a momentous year for Megan, as she prepares to carry the Olympic torch next month.
“Being world champion and having earned that title at an able-bodied competition is even more of an achievement for me,” she said.
“I couldn’t speak when I realised I’d done it. It was such a shock.”
“It only really hit home that I was world champion when I got back and my family had decorated the house with Union Jack flags and congratulations banners.”
The champion added: “I don’t let my disability affect me, I just concentrate on my lifting. It was quite a tough competition but I got on really well with the other girls and I just focused on my lifts, not what anyone else was doing.”
The family have recently moved to Newark to be closer to Megan’s training base.
But they still have strong ties with Gainsborough, and the town’s Rotarians even part-funded her trip to Pilsen.
Megan travelled with coach Keith Blake who she thanked for being ‘so supportive and encouraging’.
“I also need to thank my mum and step dad for helping with all my travelling and the costs that need paying.”
Her success comes after the disappointment of missing out on a place at this summer’s Paralympics. But Megan will be there to watch her friend Natalie Blake.
Mum Jane Ainsworth said Megan was an ‘inspiration’ who has never let her disability get in the way.
“We have brought her up to believe she rules her cerebral palsy, it does not rule her,” she said.
“She eats, sleeps and breathes powerlifting. She is so determined.”
“Now we’re looking ahead to the Commonwealth games in Glasgow in 2014 and the Olypmics in Rio in 2016. Megan is an inspiration and we are so proud of her.”