Sam Taylor and Sue Taylor-Franklin are now officially the UK’s strongest couple.
The couple from Llanrumney, Cardiff, won 1st and 2nd place at the Brits Women Masters 2020.
“We couldn’t quite believe it, we were sort of stood there looking at each other waiting for someone to come along and say it was a mistake”, Sam, 42, who works for Newport City Council.
Training four days a week, the pair put away an impressive 3,000 calories a day which would increase to 5,000 on the run up to a competition.
Meeting each other through a mutual friend, Sue, 52, who works for the Probation Service and Sam soon hit it off after finding a mutual love for the gym and are currently trained by Rhianon Lovelace, former World’s Strongest Woman.
“We got chatting and started heading to the gym together”, Sam explained.
“I’d had a few mental health issues and Sue had lost quite a bit of weight and she wanted to start going to the gym to start adding something different to the dieting”.
Sam, who started competitively lifting in 2018, soon became addicted after coming fourth in her first local competition. Now two years later, Sam currently sits as the world’s fifth strongest woman and is a four-time Welsh champion.
“I went to my first powerlifting competition in 2018 and came fourth. It’s hard work, but I became addicted really”, she said.
Sue started professionally power lifting two years ago at age 50 following Sam’s encouragement.
“I started a month after my 50th birthday so I’ve been doing it for about two-and-half years now,” Sue told WalesOnline.
“Within the first six weeks I did my first powerlifting contest and beat four Welsh records that day”.
Sue is now Britain’s strongest woman over 50 and holds an impressive two British deadlift records.
Putting their success down to their strong support network, Sue believes they both perform well because they push each other to achieve big.
“We’re very supportive of each other”, she said.
“We’ve both got different strengths in different events but I think it’s good because we challenge and push each other all the time. It works, it works really well.”
For Sam especially, the gym has been an important lifeline to manage her mental health after struggling to adjust following an abusive relationship.
After attempting suicide, Sam found that the gym gave her a new perspective on life and advocates for people to find what makes them happy and become the best at it.
“I’d been in an abusive relationship that I got out of and it was a couple of months after that relationship where my world kind of crashed down a little bit”, Sam explained.
“I had more to give and more to do in life. I kind of feel now that life is too short, and I need to go out there and achieve things. My story is very much you can go out there and achieve things and become the best person you can possibly be”.
Being women and LGBT+, the couple admit it has been hard for them to gain recognition and sponsorship similar to top performing men in their sport due to stereotypical set backs.
“The men at the top levels will get thousands of pounds for winning and women at the same level will get £500”, Sam added.
“World Strongest Woman is out there now, it’s getting more popular, but it is more of a struggle. Women have this perception that if they lift weight they’re going to look like men, so there’s all these barriers”.
The couple live at home with their 10 year old son and hope people will be inspired to take up sports regardless of age, sexuality and gender after reading their story.
“When someone mentions what we’ve achieved we look at each other and say ‘oh yeah that’s quite amazing,” Sam said.
“There must be so many people out there who are looking for something to achieve that they don’t know that they’re capable of”.
“It doesn’t matter how late in life you start it, I didn’t start until I was 50,” Sue added.
“In that two years we’ve had a massive wedding, we’re raising a son, it’s not been easy but it’s definitely been worth it”.
Looking forward to future competitions after coronavirus, the couple hope to compete against each other after they both qualified for World’s Strongest Woman 2021 which takes place in Florida.
“As you can imagine, loads of people ask us who’s the strongest” Sam explained.
“It depends what were talking about. We’ll find out who’s the strongest when we go next year”.