James Leaper raises the bar, placing 7th in his category at the World Men's Classic Bench Press Championships in Tokyo, Japan.
Competing in the Junior 66kg, James took 7th place with an incredible lift of 120kg, narrowly missing out on 125kg.
"The experience was incredible, very different to all my other competitions and was a huge learning curve for me. Overall I'm really happy with the result because I hit a competition personal best of 120kg."
James has competed in Nationals for the past 3 years, winning at each event and in 2017 he travelled to South Africa to compete in the Commonwealths. However, weightlifting wasn't always his first sporting love. His weightlifting journey in fact began with kayaking. When he was younger, James was on the GB kayak squad, but unfortunately dislocated his hip while kayaking. Despite the injury, he continued to train physically and his trainer set up a program of bench press exercises to remove the weight from his hip. Seeing James' progress in this area, his trainer entered him into a Regional competition and then into a Nationals a month later - both of which he won. His career in weightlifting has skyrocketed ever since.
However, the success doesn't come easily, James tells us:
"Now when I have competitions I work tirelessly, changing my diet and doing specific training plans. I also undergo testing regularly to give myself the best chances."
But he's grateful for the support he's had along the way:
"I'd just like to finally thank the Students' Union. Each year they have put their faith in me, putting me on the sport scholarship scheme despite the fact that I am far from being a perfect athlete. Then on top of that they listened to my proposal for this competition and covered the costs, which would have stopped me from going otherwise."
As a Students' Union we are so proud of everything James - and other student athletes likes him - have achieved. If you ever feel like you have a barrier towards achieving your sporting goal, please don't hesitate to email us here and talk to us. We might be able to help.