Samantha McLean is our first athlete to be featured in Strong People. She is 38 years of age, a Senior Lecturer in Microbiology and a wife and mother. She has already surpassed her own expectations in her Strongwoman career so far and has shared her story with us in her own words.
In my teens and twenties I played rugby, I represented Great Britain in two world cups and toured Australia. I really enjoyed my time playing rugby and met some amazing women.
I retired from rugby to start my family and now have two young girls. But in keeping with the muddy theme I decided to start getting active again and took up obstacle course racing. That was lots of fun too and I got to do lots of crazy things like jump from 7m high platforms into water, run up a travellator, swing on a giant Newton’s cradle and just generally have fun in the mud!
After having my second daughter I put on a lot of weight and became the heaviest and least fit I’d been in my entire life. One day I decided enough was enough and joined a local Strongman/Powerlifting gym (Titanium Strength Gym -TSG). I didn’t really know at that point what I wanted to do training-wise but I knew I always enjoyed lifting heavy. Everyone down at TSG was so friendly and welcoming and it was only a couple of months before I was signed up for my first Strongwoman competition at the age of 37...
From Novice to National Competitor
I’ve now been competing in Strongwoman since July 2018, I love moving events because I think my rugby background helps me to use my power to cover the ground. I’m a fan of the Super Yoke particularly, but it doesn’t really get any better or more iconic in Strongwoman than lifting atlas stones. There is something so amazing about making that big stone lift - I love it! I signed up for a first timers competition and a few novice competitions that year to get experience and was immediately hooked. One of the owners at TSG said they thought I could compete at the regional qualifiers for England’s Strongest Woman in April 2019 so with that vote of confidence I set my first Strongwoman goal - to compete at the Midland’s qualifier U82KG category and not to zero any of the events. At the time I signed up I couldn’t lift the weight for the deadlift so zeroing was a real possibility but I decided to commit to the task at hand and in the 14 months before the qualifier I lost around 16KG to make weight and worked hard on my strength training program. I also took advantage of the support offered by the amazing Strongwoman community by visiting Kaos Strength in Preston and Rhino’s Gym in Tamworth to learn more. What I learned was just how welcoming and inclusive Strongwoman is, I was a newbie and didn’t know anyone but that didn’t matter, I was given advice, support and encouragement all the way. With the current Britain’s Strongest Woman even telling me that she thought I could make it all the way to Britain’s Strongest Woman in 2019! In short, in 2019 not only did I achieve my goal of not zeroing any events in the Midland’s Qualifier I managed to come second. I also qualified for England’s Strongest Woman, the Official Strongman European Championships and even got my shot at competing at Britain’s Strongest Woman!
What happens next?
I’m going back to basics over the next few months, i want to increase my static strength in the off season and then hit 2020 with everything I’ve got! Who knows maybe one day I’ll even make it to the World Championships...
Thank you Samantha for sharing your story and we'll be sure to keep an eye out for you in future competitions. If you would like to follow her progress then you can find her on Instagram @sammclean7
Special thanks to Strength Shop for use of their image