A former soldier who took up powerlifting to aid his recovery following a serious injury sustained during a training exercise, has won gold at the Commonwealth Championships in Canada.
Indy Dhillon, a Technical Through Life Specialist within the Artillery Systems team at DE&S, suffered muscular damage to his back on a training exercise in the Brecon Beacons.
During his recovery, his physio suggested he take up powerlifting to not only aid his recovery, but also to improve his mental health.
Indy, who served in the Army for six years in Electronic Warfare and Signalling, found he really enjoyed his newfound pastime and decided to attend a competition day in Stafford to see what all the excitement was about.
“I was pleasantly surprised at how friendly and supportive the competitors were. I’ve never experienced this in other competitive sports I’ve played in the past, so that was really refreshing and motivated me to pursue it seriously,” said Indy who is 6ft and weighs in at a sturdy 16st 7lbs (105kg).
Indy then decided to join the Army Powerlifting Union where he was able to train three times a week with a coach, competing in his first ever competition in April 2016. From then on, Indy was hooked and continued to compete as much as he could alongside normal work life.
“I train four days a week for at least four hours a day but make sure I have three rest days where I do minimal exercise to ensure I am properly rested,” he said.
Needing to take on 3,500-4,000 calories might seem a struggle for Indy as a vegetarian, but he manages it though one protein shake, dairy, soya and, currently, a couple of mince pies a day.
Indy said: “I have been a vegetarian all my life, but the choice nowadays is so much better. I try not to eat badly but I have to admit I do enjoy a paneer curry accompanied by dozens of samosas, macaroni and cheese and pizza.”
Earlier this year, Indy competed in the All England’s competition in Manchester. The success in Manchester saw Indy being selected to represent England in the Commonwealth Powerlifting games in Newfoundland, Canada.
The competition was televised and held in front of 300 audience members where they watched Indy, alongside 15 other people from around the world, compete for first place.
“Normally, my ritual is to listen to heavy metal music before a competition, but I decided to listen to classical music; a different approach agreed with my coach,” he said.
“Doing this made me feel more relaxed this time around. There were no expectations from my coach or from myself which really helped with my nerves on the day.”
Indy was able to push his own boundaries in the competition, and the change in pre-game ritual seemed to pay off.
He competed in the under 105kg category, achieving the gold medal in the deadlift (335kg) and squat (300kg) and the silver medal in the bench press (165kg), coming first in his category overall.
Indy, who was the British Army powerlifting champion, said: “I’m very grateful for the support that I’ve received from my team and with the flexibility that DE&S offers, I was able to structure my working hours around the extensive training regime that I had.
Hoping to carry on his victories, Indy has sights set on the British Championships next year.
“I’m in my rest period now, but with my new coach I’m already looking forward to training for my next competition, which will hopefully be at the British Championships in 2020,” he said.
From there he hopes to make the England squad for the World Championships in 2021.
This piece was originally printed in the November 2019 edition of Desider Magazine.