This feature appears in issue 10 (December 2011) of In the City magazine. Unfortunately due to an editing error it was published under my colleague Aimee Beveridge’s name, but is 100% my own work.
Colette Will, immaculately made-up with her trademark heavy eyeliner and long blonde hair, contradicts the weightlifting stereotype entirely. You wouldn’t guess from her tiny frame – she is only 5.2” and a size 8 – that she could easily lift her own bodyweight.
“I’m only doing squats at the moment,” she apologises, casually moving a weight almost the size of her torso. These are apparently “just to warm up your muscles”, but involve Colette repeatedly moving from standing to crouching with a weight of up to 65 kilos on her shoulders. At only 49 kilos herself this is an impressive feat, and her skill is confirmed by the fact that she holds the current British Juniors and Under-23s weightlifting titles. She also happens to be the closest to qualifying standard for the 2014 Commonwealth Games from the Gladiator Club, Easterhouse, and passed her referee exam last month. Not bad going considering she only started weightlifting three years ago.
The Knightswood resident first became aware of her weightlifting potential during the gymnastics classes she started aged seven. She trains five days a week, despite being in college for three. When her media studies course at Cardonald College lets out at 4pm, Colette heads straight to training. “You’re dead tired by the end of it,” she says. “It’s hard to do it sometimes but I just get on with it. It’s a sacrifice you need to make – your social life or your sport.” She shrugs: “I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have sport.”
On making Team Scotland: “Just getting there would be amazing,” says Colette. “To be in front of a home crowd would be really amazing to see. That’s my focus right now,” she says. “I can always go back to education, but that’s really my fall-back in case this doesn’t work out.”
Colette claims she hasn’t really thought about competing against other members of her club should she make the 2014 squad. “We all support each other,” she says, but she has no doubt that her competitive spirit would prevail if she were to go to the Games with one of her colleagues. “It would give me more of a boost of motivation because we’re from the same club,” she admits. “You kind of have to be selfish in that because it is an individual sport. It’s not your problem if you beat them.”
Colette claims part of her desire to get to the Games is to prove the worth of female lifters. “People look at me saying, ‘Oh, you can’t do that’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah I can!’ and if they say, ‘Prove it‘, I just show them a picture and they shut up,” she jokes. “It’s different than you think. It’s not all male and you don’t have big bulging muscles. I’m not like that.”
The qualification standards for the 2014 Commonwealth Games are expected to be announced this time next year. Meanwhile Colette still wants to compete in smaller competitions, but as for 2014: “That’s my goal,” she says.