Since graduating from BU in 2020, Liam Mcgarry’s Para Powerlifting career has gone from strength to strength.
Despite the challenges of Covid-19 lockdowns, in March of this year, Liam not only picked up a silver medal at the Manchester 2021 Para Powerlifting World Cup, but also broke the British record.
“I felt as though, after a year in lockdown, it really was my time. I felt good enough and strong enough to start taking on the world’s best,” says Liam. “My performance in Manchester opened up a Wildcard to compete in Tokyo. Unfortunately, the new British record of 210kg that I set at the next big event – the Dubai Para Powerlifting World Cup in June – wasn’t enough for the Wildcard. But it was an amazing experience to represent GB abroad and it will be invaluable moving into the cycle to compete in the 2024 Paris Paralympics.”
Liam’s journey into Para Powerlifting started in 2017 when, while at BU studying Sports Psychology & Coaching Sciences, he was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis – inflammation of the spinal cord. Soon after his diagnosis, Liam discovered Para Powerlifting through the Spinal Games, determined to keep a focus through sport.
“After my injury, I was at a crossroads, not really knowing where to go. Once I found the route of Para Powerlifting, everyone moved heaven and earth to help me. SportBU moved the equipment around in the gym so that I could have a bench in there and Dan Boer, their Strength & Conditioning Coach, spent up to four hours in the gym each day with me,’’ Liam recalls.
Liam Mcgarry with his training team
Liam is part of the British Weightlifting team, after discovering Para Powerlifting at the Spinal Games
Liam in action at the Dubai World Championships
BU graduate Liam Mcgarry competing at the Dubai Para Powerlifting World Cup 2021
Liam on his diagnosis
I still see myself as doing a lot more than a lot of able-bodied people. I don’t really see myself as someone that people need to feel sorry for.
Soon after, in 2019, Liam’s hard work and determination to compete at the highest level paid off – he won both the British and English Para Powerlifting Championships. And now, with his silver medal at the 2021 Para Powerlifting World Cup under his belt, Liam has his sights firmly set on the next big competition in the calendar – the Para Powerlifting World Championships, due to take place in Georgia in November.
Liam said: “I’ve just experienced the most gruelling eight weeks of my life, preparing for the upcoming World Championships. It’s been pretty tough, with a 7k bike or swim in the morning, followed by up to four hours of weight training in the afternoon, six days per week. The focus is now on building my strength. I’m determined to go the Worlds as strong as I can be.’’
If Liam can achieve a top-eight ranking at the World Championships in Georgia, he’ll secure his place at the Paris 2024 Paralympics. And with the European Championships and Commonwealth Games just around the corner in 2022, it looks set to be a busy few years for the British record holder.
Liam's advice for the next generation of athletes
Dream big and work hard. My first piece of advice is to get started. I came out of hospital and went straight back to sport. My second piece of advice is set your dreams nice and big and make sure you put the work in to achieve them.