Kelly Clark, 57, from Rotherham, will be representing England in the Commonwealth Powerlifting Championships in New Zealand in November, just eight years after she started powerlifting to improve her arthritis.
Kelly was selected for the British team to compete in the World Powerlifting Championships in 2019, where she came 4th, and earned both bronze and silver medals with Team GB at the World Bench Press Championships in 2021.
She has also won the title of British Equipped Bench Press Champion in 2020 and All England Equipped Bench Press Champion in 2022.
These extraordinary qualifications have earned Kelly the chance to represent England in December at the Commonwealth Powerlifting Championships, run by the International Powerlifting Federation in Auckland, New Zealand.
Kelly, who is being supported and sponsored by her employer, Doncaster-based Keepmoat, said: “Lifting weights has done wonders for both my mental and physical health, and what started out as some fun and seeing what I could achieve has enabled me to really believe in myself and be placed amongst some of the best in the country. To now have the same opportunity at the Commonwealth Championships in New Zealand is amazing.
“If someone had told me I would be this mobile, let alone competing in international competitions ten years ago I would never have believed them, and meeting and competing with incredible people along the way has been a dream come true.”
Concerned with aches and pains and wanting to increase her mobility, Kelly was advised to start lifting weights by a trainer at her gym.
Suffering with arthritis so badly at times, Kelly was left unable to close the boot of her car using her right arm, however after a few short months of training her mobility returned and her pain decreased dramatically, enough to make her stop taking her prescribed arthritis medication.
After volunteering in Sheffield at the Special Olympics, Kelly received a first-hand look at what competing could be like and soon after entered her first competition in March 2018, which would lead to her qualifying for British Championships at age 54.
Kelly said: “I really count myself lucky that I’ve been given the opportunity to go to this competition which wouldn’t be possible without the help and financial support from Keepmoat and everyone at work.”
Kelly works as People Development and Engagement Manager for Keepmoat in Doncaster, supporting people through leadership and soft skills training. The business will be supporting Kelly with costs such as flights and accommodation, as well as added paid annual leave to enable her to take part in the competition.
Kelly added: “Without the support from Keepmoat I wouldn’t have been able to achieve this dream. The sponsorship in itself is incredible, but the amazing backing from my team and the agile working has allowed me to train for this opportunity.
The business is really focused on developing people and communities, with values that align with my own, and this support has proved that.”
Kelly is also a qualified life coach, which brings an added benefit to her role of supporting her colleagues to develop skills in areas such as communication and negotiation, as well as aiding career development and helping improve staff wellbeing.
Kelly said: “Powerlifting has helped me so much within my role in developing people professionally, as it gives you incredible focus and improves confidence, which are skills that you can pass on to others to inspire them to achieve their goals and overcome obstacles like I did with my own health and fitness journey.
“Being part of the powerlifting community has also helped my own personal development, from liaising with a wide variety of people from different backgrounds and cultures to putting myself in new and challenging situations.
“The best part of my job at Keepmoat is the variety of work and being part of such a great team. There are so many different job roles in housebuilding and lots of people from a wide range of backgrounds which makes every day interesting.
“I deal with so many people, from the construction site teams to management, and everyone is very friendly and really lives the values of the business. Keepmoat does so much work supporting communities and encouraging social value, which is really important to me.”
Keepmoat is a leading UK home builder that provides high-quality, affordable homes across the country, developing areas of brownfield land and regenerating local spaces to build communities and transform lives.
Tim Beale, CEO of Keepmoat, said: “When Kelly came to me with this opportunity and asked if we could support her in any way, I was immediately on board and excited about her journey.
The whole team here at Keepmoat are incredibly inspired by Kelly’s story, and I wanted to make sure she had the time and resources to be able to do her best at the Commonwealth Championships.
“At Keepmoat, we already have an agile working environment which Kelly has been able to take advantage of, and we are extremely excited to be able to sponsor her and be by her side on this inspiring journey.
“Kelly’s personal triumphs and amazing skills support people within our business, which is invaluable to us. She really embodies our values of building communities and transforming lives, which is how we came up with the slogan ‘Built By Keepmoat’ for Kelly to wear with pride on her sponsored kit.”
Kelly Clark will be jetting off to New Zealand on the 24th of November, to compete on the 29th of November.