Born on the 26th of August, 1991, and raised in the city of Wolverhampton, I am going to take you on a journey of achievements and devastating setbacks, which changed the course of my life.
My name is Takara Hawthorne-Smith, and I would describe myself as a confident, focused, determined, ambitious and passionate young woman - who is also a serial goal setter. I am currently employed as a prison custody officer and enjoy reading and listening to inspirational authors and speakers, who have helped me through a dark and difficult period I previously found myself in.
That difficult period in my life centred around the time I was playing football for the Wolverhampton Wanderers ladies football team. Whilst there, I suffered two serious knee injuries, both of which required keyhole surgery.
When I eventually made it back on the pitch, it was a great feeling, even though I was cautious about my knee. During the last game of the season, I came onto the pitch as a substitute, within minutes my knee gave way, and I instantly knew this injury was serious.
I was devastated; I had surgery, I had physiotherapy, and it felt that everything I had ever worked towards came crashing down around me. I had to make a decision; continue or quit. Finally, the thought of facing further injuries and surgery left me looking back at that 11-year old school girl, whose dream was to play football at a professional level for Arsenal, would never happen. I was at the lowest point in my life, I didn't have the energy to focus on anything - football was all that I had wanted to do.
In 2010, I decided to go to the gym in order to get myself back to my original level of fitness - this step proved to be a turning point for me. Training boosted my confidence and gave me a good feeling about myself. With this new-found confidence I decided to become a personal trainer; I could identify with clients who had low self-esteem and needed someone who had experienced the same emotions.
Whilst training, various people commented on how strong I was. I was told there was a powerlifting competition coming up in 6 weeks-time. Using that drive within me, I entered the competition. With only a short time to prepare, training was hard and intensive, but I was determined. The punishing sessions would see me take first place. Lifting the trophy was one of the best feelings in my life.
Following my first win, I entered further competitions, including my first British Championship, where I placed 7th, the following year, I placed 2nd. If you remember the opening paragraph and how I described myself, these powerful words are ingrained within me. I never lost sight of my goal, which was to be placed higher; I am now ranked third in Britain.
I have received great comments, encouragement, and coaching from some of the top powerlifters. Who knew that entering the gym would have changed my life, and leave me with the ultimate goal of representing team GB in powerlifting.
Women, whoever you are, and wherever you are, if you take away one thing from my journey, it is that although I didn't choose this path, it has been filled with exciting new challenges, enabling me to feel empowered, and to know that IMPOSSIBLE means I'M POSSIBLE.
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