POWERLIFTER AND personal trainer Takara Hawthorne-Smith refused to crumble mentally or physically when serious knee injuries spelt the end of her long-held dream of becoming a professional footballer.
The 24-year-old hung up her boots after a promising early career with Wolverhampton Wanderers and turned to her local gym and gained a Level 2 gym instructor course, followed by a Level 3 personal training qualification.
Inspired by the confidence this gave her, the Wolverhampton-born athlete devoted weeks of training for her first powerlifting competition in Solihull last month – and won, becoming the West Midlands’ senior powerlifting champion. This now qualifies her for the British finals later this year.
“It was always my dream to be a professional footballer and I was devastated when I had to stop playing after two knee operations,” said Hawthorne-Smith, an avid Arsenal supporter who was selected for Wolves’ under-12 girls and continued to play in the under-16s until she had her first injury.
“I had to take a year out, but I returned and was chosen to play for the Ladies’ First Team. To be asked was a great honour, but on the last day of the season in 2007, I picked up a second injury, which resulted in me having to have knee surgery.
“I made the decision to leave football and my confidence hit rock bottom, but through my powerlifting and gym qualifications I feel I’ve turned a disappointment into something positive,” added Takara, who works as a personal trainer and holds exercise classes at The Gym Group in Alexandra Street, Wolverhampton.
Hawthorne-Smith, who regularly lifts 200kg and is aiming for 240kg, said: “I want to inspire other women to break records – and I hope to take part one day in the world’s strongest woman competition.”
WORDS: Poppy Brady