A SOUTHAMPTON woman who claims turning vegan saved her life has been crowned as the UK's strongest female.

Amy Linford, 35, who is a Team GB physio and pain removal expert to some of the world's strongest men - including Southampton strongmen Aaron Page - competed in the Strong Women competition and came up top.

Her fitness journey which mainly consisted of building up muscle strength started five years ago, just six years after she was given the all-clear for cervical cancer.

Amy, who runs the 'Freedom Therapy' clinic from Barbell Gym in Quayside Southampton, said she had "had enough" of taking drug treatment while she had cancer and decided to turn completely vegan.

She said: "I didn't want the cancer to define me. Having cancer was the biggest reason why I went vegan.

"The drugs were taking over and I'd had enough. I researched turning vegan, and although the doctors didn't really agree with my decision, about six weeks later the doctors gave me the all-clear. I believe that turning vegan saved my life.

"But it's interesting becoming the strongest woman, because many people think that vegans are weak."

Since becoming vegan, she has gone on to win the Strong Women competition in the 82-kilo weight category.

She pulled an 70kg axle bar from a lorry, held a farmer's carry with around 80kg in each hand, lifted 170kg in a deadlift move, carried a conan's wheel in multiple circles, carried a 60kg sandbag and ran with a 250kg sled.

There were two seconds separating first and second place in the decider of the final round of a sled-pull medley, which took place on February 15.

She said: "It hasn't quite sunk in yet, it's a bit mad. I've been focusing on training so it's hard to think that it's over.

"Next year, I will be defending my title, and will be entering another competition this year. The winner of the competition gets to represent England and go to world championships.

"If I'm not competing, I'm with the strong men at their competitions."