Commonwealth gold for University of Sussex student

Nathaniel Wiesendanger Shaw, sport scholar last year, is currently completing a PhD in Theoretical Physics in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, so is already doing his fair share of heavy lifting.

But, Nathaniel, weighing in at under 74kg, doesn’t just have a heavy workload. Over the last six years he has competed in powerlifting competitions and has represented Great Britain and England at an international level. 

Overseen by the International Powerlifting Federation, his most recent competition was the Commonwealth Powerlifting Championships, which took place in St John’s, Canada on the 19 September 2019.

Nathaniel has already competed and won the Commonwealth Championships twice and this weekend was no exception, despite moving up into a higher weight category.

He took home the gold medal in each event (squat, bench press and deadlift) which comprised the powerlifting championship.

In powerlifting, the person who lifts the most weight across the three events, as a total, wins the competition. At an international level you also get medals for each event separately, meaning there are four possible medals up for grabs, including the ‘Total Category’ medal.

Each athlete has three attempts to lift the heaviest possible weight when squatting, deadlifting and bench pressing, so they tend to start with a lower weight and then progress if they can.

Nathaniel won the squat event on his second try, making his third attempt of 212.5kg the icing on the cake. In the deadlift he won gold on his first attempt at 227.5kg. His final deadlift was 240kg.

Nathaniel attained all four gold medals on Saturday, as the winner of all three events in his weight category U74, which had six other world class competitors in it.

The competition was streamed live on YouTube and can be viewed here. Nathaniel appears live from 4h33mins and again at 5h49mins where he receives his awards to rapturous applause and smiles all round.

The bronze and silver were taken by two Northern Irish competitors, so a clean sweep for the British in that weight category.

In May last year Nathaniel also achieved a second-place finish at the English Nationals, after getting 10th place at the World Championships in Belarus in June.

Since 2015, Nathaniel was part of the sport scholarship scheme, run by the University of Sussex’s sport department, Sussexsport, funded through donations made by alumni via the Sussex Fund last year.

Of the project, Nathaniel said:

“Bluntly, the successes above have been made entirely possible by the scholar scheme. Because of this support from alumni, I have been able to afford travel for competitions and hire the best coach in the business: Lawrence Farncombe. 

“The scholarship has also provided me with excellent mentoring, which I’ve found really useful over the years, helping me find the right balance between academic life and powerlifting.

“And the scholarship scheme provides access to an excellent sport physio (Marc Slowey, who works at Sussexsport) and chiropractor (Leah Sheldrick) who have both really helped me battle some difficult injuries over the last year or so.”

Fellow sport scholar, Poppy Joshi, who broke a world record at the International Powerlifting Championships in Glasgow last year, watched Nathaniel compete live on Youtube and celebrated with a post on Instagram:

“Gold in all three events and gold overall !! Our new U74 commonwealth champion.”

Sussexsport is incredibly proud of Nathaniel and can’t wait to see what he is capable of achieving next year. Terry Cooper, deputy head of sport and coordinator of the scholarship scheme, spoke highly of Nathaniel when he said:

“It is great to see Nate continuing to compete at the highest levels and on the achievement of the three-time Commonwealth titles. We are delighted that the support the sports scholarship provides has been instrumental in his success over the years, and it was particularly good to hear about the success of the mentoring support, as this is something that I feel is vital to our athletes’ development. Nate has been a model sports scholar over the years, always willing to help with Open Days and providing support to other athletes, so I was pleased to hear about his performance in Canada.”

Students can find more about scholarship opportunities with Sussexsport here.


Back to news list

By: Rose Wilmot
Last updated: Thursday, 3 October 2019