Gympie duo crush barriers on 'weigh' to success
STEREOTYPES are made to be broken, and two Gympie weightlifters have smashed their way through them.
Sandie Branson and Telia Tonkin will both compete at the Australia and Oceania Weightlifting Masters next month, and Ms Tonkin said she would have no bar of being labelled by her gender.
"I'm just a weightlifter, female's got nothing to do with it,” she said.
For Mrs Branson, crunching that stereotype was a reward in its own right.
"It's extremely empowering,” she said.
"It makes you feel strong, it makes you feel alive.”
In fact, they have both traversed more tangible barriers on their way to success.
Starting with exercise to lose weight, Ms Tonkin moved from walking to half-marathons, on to crossfit before finally gravitating towards weightlifting with the Stay True club five years ago.
In the process she lost 75kg, and she said a person's size should never be a reason for not giving it a go.
"I think people my age think that there's no way they can do that,” she said.
"If you are a bit big bigger, it's not a reason or an excuse to not give something new a go,” she said.
And her own commitment has already been rewarded with two gold medals and two silver medals at major competitions.
Not far behind in terms of success, with a silver medal in national competition already to her name only two years into her weightlifting career, Mrs Branson has buried any perception her age is a limitation.
"I never thought at 50 I'd be donning the Green and Gold,.
"For me to be able to come and do a sport at that age, is a great challenge.”
She encouraged others to take the plunge and ignore any idea that it was too late to start something new.
"People my age probably think that 'there's no way I could do that, I'm not strong enough and there's no way I'd be able to do it',” she said.
"It's actually very reachable for anyone to do... I started right back from scratch.
"It'd be great to have a lot more women my age competing.”
And having the Commonwealth Games under way only drives their passion further.
Ms Tonkin has already been down to watch a few of the events "looking for inspiration”.
"It was awesome,” she said.
"I took my two young kids and they just absolutely loved it.”
Mrs Branson agreed there was a lot to love about having the international event so close to home.
"It's always great to watch professional athletes,” she said.
"You learn so much more about the sport.”
The Australian and Oceania Masters Championships starts on May 25.