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Friday, December 2, 2022

The Australian Educator Who Is Competing to Become the Strongest Woman in the World

It might seem like Elly Smith leads a very typical existence to someone who has just a passing familiarity with her. She teaches both history and geography at the Baulkham Hills North Public School, which is located in the northern part of Sydney. In addition, she is an assistant principal at the school. She has two dogs, one of which is a Maltese Shih Tzu named Lucy, and the other is a toy poodle that she calls Ted. She is quite active on Instagram, where she engages in conversation with her 1,300 followers on a regular basis and has a strong interest in health and fitness.

And from this coming Friday through Sunday, she will compete in an effort to earn the title of world’s strongest woman.

Ms. Smith is well-known in the athletic community in addition to her role as a teacher. She participates in the sport known as strongman, in which competitors try to lift, hold, pull, or carry a variety of objects, ranging from dumbbells to vehicles to aeroplanes. A combination of powerlifting and movement exercises, these tests of strength grow in difficulty, intricacy, and weight to put athletes to the test. A points-based scoring system is used in contests to decide who comes out on top.

Ms. Smith plans to compete for the title of World’s Strongest Woman in a contest that will take place in Daytona Beach, Florida, in the month of November. It is the greatest distinction that can be bestowed to female-identifying strongman athletes, and it is given out by Train Strongman, one of the most prominent event organisers in the strongman world. Competitors will need to be able to successfully perform tasks such as deadlifting 218 kilos, lifting a 125-kilogram sandbag, and transporting a 317-kilogram automobile 50 feet in order to win it. The fact that Ms. Smith was even invited to participate in the competition came as bit of a shock to her.

Strongman competitions fill a specific need in the sporting landscape of Australia. The Clearinghouse for Sport, a government organisation in Australia that gathers information relating to sports, does not have any statistics on the topic. The majority of events are held in a small number of gyms that are dedicated to strength sports, and the spectators that attend are often made up of fellow strongman athletes, industry experts, and those who are new to strength sports. Even if the worldwide reputation of Australian athletes is growing, it is still not enough for them to be regularly competitive against strongmen from other parts of the world, such as the United States or Europe. Prize money for victors is very uncommon, if it is even available at all.

Ms. Smith had been competing in strongman competitions for a period of three years prior to being accepted for the World’s Strongest Woman competition. She competed in the Australia’s Strongest Woman competition in March of this year, and she ended up finishing sixth; in June, she competed in the New South Wales equivalent, and she ended up finishing second. Florida, on the other hand, has been her primary concern as of late.

Due to the little amount of prize money available in strongman competitions and Ms. Smith’s relatively low income as a teacher, she must rely on sponsorships to help her cover her expenses. While they are beneficial, it should be noted that they do not cover everything. However, the welcoming nature of the community is what encourages her to continue participating.

This culture is the means through which the industry maintains its current audience while also attracting newcomers. According to Manning Jeffrey, the general manager of the Adonis Athletics gym franchise in Sydney, the community in that area would “roll the red carpet out for anyone who is ready to give it a try.”

It seems, based on anecdotal evidence, that the sport is gaining popularity in Australia. In 2022, the business owned by Mr. Dannatt hosted 22 strongman contests; in 2023, it will host 24 strongman competitions, among which will be a whole new series of tournaments for middleweight athletes, young strongmen and women, and athletes of all abilities. In addition to this, he has agreed to terms with the online streaming service Kayo Sports, through which users will be able to witness the 2022 editions of the Australia’s Strongest Man and Woman championships.

Ms. Smith said that there were 40 contestants in a recent beginner tournament, which is a significant number for our sport. She will be competing in Florida against a total of 13 other Australians, which is an increase over the 11 opponents she faced in 2019.

Mr. Jeffrey, whose fitness centre has many locations around Sydney, is actively recruiting new members. According to Mr. Dannatt, recent popular events are garnering more finance and sponsors, but even so, there is room for improvement in this regard. He is now very hard planning the Australia’s Strongest International competition, which will take place in Castlemaine, Victoria, in the month of January.

Due to the fact that Ms. Smith has a jam-packed competitive calendar, she won’t have any time off for some time. However, before she can focus on those contests, there is one aspect of her everyday life that requires her attention.

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