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Daniella Scozzi hoping to become a powerlifting champion
She has gone from strength to strength since starting a new life in Hampshire as a single parent. SARAH JONES speaks to Daniella Scozzi about her surprisingly successful new hobby.
AS a single mum of four children – two of whom have autism – it’s a wonder Daniella Scozzi has an ounce of energy left to devote to anything else.
But after joining a gym just over a year ago, the 44-year-old has left everyone astounded since winning her first ever powerlifting competition – which just so happened to be the British championships.
Crowned the best in the country, the dedicated parent has now set her sights on global domination.
For she has won a place at the world championships in Las Vegas in November, where she will compete against the crème de la crème of female powerlifters.
It is a dream come true for Daniella, who has had to start a new life from scratch in Southampton .
Arriving in the city three years ago, she didn’t know a soul after leaving her husband and her hometown of Swansea behind her.
While her eldest daughter, 21-year-old Gabriella, is studying medicine in London, Daniella’s three other children moved with her to live in Bitterne .
There’s Ricky, 17, who has high-functioning autism (he didn’t talk until he was seven and is now studying for his A-levels ), ten-year-old Molly and Cerith, seven.
It’s her youngest son who is particularly challenging. A pupil at a specialist unit at Thornhill School, he struggles with communication, and has learning, behavioural and sleep difficulties. He requires constant supervision and shares Daniella’s bed at night for his own safety.
“I started going to the gym because I wanted to de-stress,” she says. “It was a way to stay healthy too and when you have disabled children, you need to be mentally and physically strong.”
Working as a secondary school Business Studies and IT teacher when she was in Wales, Daniella is no longer able to work because of her childcare commitments.
Now training at Samsons Gym in Eastleigh , she spends two hours there every day after dropping her youngest two at school.
“Without a doubt, coming here is ‘my’ thing,” says Daniella. “My seven-year-old boy can be quite difficult before he goes to school but when I get to the gym and do my work-out, it chills me out. While I wouldn’t be without my children and I love them to bits, when I leave the gym I feel ready for ‘round two’ when they get homel!”
Now able to lift more than most of the men at her gym (she can deadlift 180kilos – three times her own bodyweight), Daniella’s fitness journey began when she moved to Southampton and signed up for spinning classes.
Soon moving on to weights, she took to it like a natural and was encouraged to enter Strong Women events. Despite picking up a third place at Britain’s Strongest Woman 2011, Daniella kept getting injured and started looking for a new challenge.
She found it in May this year and hasn’t looked back since.
Explosive and a strength sport, powerlifting – which involves lifting weights in squat, bench press and deadlift – suited her perfectly.
“It’s about technique, strength and having the courage to push yourself,” says Daniella.
She has to follow a strict protein-rich diet of around 4,000 ‘good’ calories a day, avoid alcohol and get plenty of sleep. It means her social life revolves around the gym and not much more, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I have to train during the day to fit in with the kids being at school. That’s difficult because most of the other powerlifters train at night. It fits in around work for them and also gives them time to eat throughout the day and build their energy levels.”
While she did flirt with weight training briefly more than 20 years ago, motherhood come along and she gave it up – and she was never a natural when it came to sport.
“When I was at school, I hated PE and always came last at cross-country. But now I’ve found a sport that I love.”
Keen to promote powerlifting to other women, she wants to break down misconceptions surrounding the sport.
“People automatically assume female powerlifters are going to be huge with an Adam’s apple and moustache! But that’s not the case. Powerlifting is actually one of the best ways to lose weight and stay toned.
“It is all about how much you can lift but whenever I go to an event, I glam up because I want the image of the sport to be a feminine one.”
With around six weeks to go before heading to Las Vegas to compete, Daniella is looking for sponsors to help her to get there. She estimates she needs around £2,000 to cover flights, entry fee, accommodation and specialist equipment.
Another person who couldn’t be prouder of Daniella’s success is Danny Harkins, owner of Samsons Gym.
“To be number one in the country and to qualify for the World championships is an incredible lifetime achievement,” he says. “She is absolutely exceptional and a great ambassador for the sport.”
- If you are interested in sponsoring Daniella, contact Samsons Gym on 023 8064 4714.