Louise Sugden struggled to hide her emotions after claiming her first international para-powerlifting title at the weekend, just a year after taking up the sport.

The 33-year-old won gold in the women’s -86kg category at the European Open Para-Powerlifting Championships in Berck-sur-Mer, clearing the bar at 100kg, 104kg and finally 108kg.

“I am delighted,” Sugden admitted.

“I genuinely did not come to this competition expecting to come away with gold.

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I think we played really well tactically, I am ecstatic.

Louise Sugden

“I am going out with my family who have come over and supported me – then I will get back to training.”

From the age of 13, Sugden played wheelchair basketball, competing at the Beijing and London Paralympic Games.

She retired from the sport in 2017 with five bronze European Championship medals and a Para World Cup gold to her name.

Just nine months into her para-powerlifting career, she scooped a silver medal in the heavyweight category at April’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, representing Team England.

Her prowess is clear; her closest rival this weekend, Spain’s Maria Alcoba Membrilla, took silver with 95kg, five kilograms less than Sugden’s initial lift. Aytan Baghirova, of Azerbaijan, took third place.

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