The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)

From pneumonia sick bed to weightlift­ing world champ

Getting pneumonia led to a life-altering change in direction for scientist Helen

- Jack Mckeown

When Helen Weavers developed a cough that wouldn’t go away and kept getting worse, she was perplexed.

As a sports scientist, she was used to keeping in shape, eating well and living a healthy lifestyle.

Things got worse: she had shooting pains and was barely able to draw breath. Within days, she was in hospital, diagnosed with pneumonia and pleurisy. Worse, she had a collapsed lung. It was three months before the Dundee University employee was well enough to return to work.

When she started back in the gym, even an empty barbell was too heavy. She had to use a wooden broomstick instead.

She had always enjoyed weight training as part of her fitness regime, so she began taking it more seriously.

Helen, originally from Sheffield and now living in Newport, began travelling to Glasgow to benefit from the tutelage of renowned weightlift­ing coach Ray Cavanagh.

The summer after she recovered, Helen turned 35. That, she realised, made her eligible for the Masters category in weightlift­ing.

Asher strength improved, she decided to enter a competitio­n. It would give her a goal to train towards and, who knows, she might do okay.

In February, Helen took part in the Scottish Masters in Glasgow and, to her amazement, she not only won her age and weight category but set a new Scottish record in the process.

“It was the first competitio­n I’d ever entered,” she says. “I was so nervous and worried I’d make a fool of myself. I can’t believe that I won it.”

Her performanc­e earned her a place at the European Masters, which were held last weekend. She picked up a silver medal in a performanc­e that saw her

I’ve gone from nothing to world level

achieve two personal bests. She has also qualified for her ultimate goal – the World Masters – which take place in Lapland in September.

“I can’t believe that in one year, I’ve gone from nothing to competing at world level!”

There isn’t much money in the sport, though, and Helen is hoping local people and firms will dig deep to help get her to Lapland. To sponsor Helen, email

 ?? Picture: Andrew Cawley. ?? Helen Weavers in action.
Picture: Andrew Cawley. Helen Weavers in action.

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