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In a groundbreaking episode of the Period Panel, Her Sport had the privilege of welcoming Sarah Davies, an Olympic weightlifter and coach. This was not just an exploration of her journey through the realm of sport but a candid conversation about the influence of menstruation on physical performance and the significance of defying societal norms.
Sarah's trajectory in the sports world is nothing short of remarkable. She was initially a gymnast before making a shift to weightlifting during her university years in Leeds. Sarah recalls how the transition came fairly easily, given that gymnastics had trained her to have discipline and a champion's mindset.
Interestingly, Sarah also embarked on a journey of pageantry while pursuing a professional career in weightlifting. Pageants became a cherished hobby while weightlifting transformed into her profession. What was even more intriguing was her path to self-discovery, as she realized she could embody both muscular strength and femininity in her unique way.
— Sarah Davies (@sarahdavies1908) January 1, 2020
"Weightlifting and pageants is a very large oxymoron. I think everyone has the ability to be anything. You don't have to fit into one box."
Sarah started her period at the age of 14, which created a whole new dimension in her athletic journey. She explained how the impact of the menstrual cycle on weightlifting is undeniable - coordination and strength can fluctuate, making training immensely challenging.
Even during the recent Tokyo Olympics, Sarah experienced the inevitable effects of her period on her performance. She candidly admitted that her performance was not as she had hoped due to the coinciding menstrual cycle.
However, she remains resolute in her belief that the stigma associated with periods should be dismantled. She expressed her hope for a future where periods are embraced openly, with no harsh stigma attached.
"I'd like to think we can get there. With it being more mainstream now, and with the Lionesses and Wimbledon changing their policies and all that kind of stuff, we are getting there but there's still another many years ahead of us."
As an athlete, she is aware of the significance of nutrition and she holds a nutrition qualification and is mindful of her dietary intake. However, she faced an issue that plagues many athletes, especially women: low iron levels. Sarah shared that taking iron supplements made a significant difference in her life. She emphasized the role of Active Iron in her daily routine, helping her maintain optimal iron levels for her demanding athletic career.
"I get up, I take my Active Iron, and that sets me for the day," she affirmed, underscoring the importance of iron supplementation in her life.
Sarah Davies' journey is an inspiring testament to breaking barriers, challenging stereotypes, and striving for excellence, all while navigating the unique challenges that come with menstruation.
Watch the full episode on YouTube or listen to it on Spotify.