Belvedere teenager reaches England weightlifting squad two years after picking up first dumbbell
PUBLISHED: 11:22 31 October 2013 | UPDATED: 12:34 31 October 2013
Two years ago, Belvedere teenager Joe Brooker had never so much as lifted a dumbbell.
But what started as a bit of fun for the 17-year-old has turned into a serious pursuit and, incredibly, Joe has just made the England squad.
He said: “My friends were getting so strong and I just wanted to give it a go.
“It took a bit more work for me because I’m so tall but I loved it.”
Within months of picking up his first weight, he was pumping iron at a competition at Crystal Palace and has gone from strength to strength.
Titles include second place at Britain’s Strongest Schoolboy in 2012, winning the South East London Competition later that year and taking first place in his category at the British Youth Championships in May.
But his biggest achievement so far was being picked for the England squad and the Team GB talent confirmation squad with only four others out of 250.
Joe could be in line to represent his country at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
He said: “I was so happy when I got picked. I know people who have been doing it since they were eight years old and they didn’t get on the team.
“The 2020 Olympics are definitely the goal but it’s achievable. It’s my motivation – it keeps me going when I’ve got really sore muscles or bad joints.”
Joe started in 2011. He weighed just 48kg and was 5ft 11ins. He has now grown into a 6ft 2ins, 78kg giant.
To build on his bulk, Joe needs to consume 3,700 calories a day.
He trains six days a week at Europa Gym in Fraser Road, Erith, and travels to Leeds at weekends for work with the national squad.
Though he is studying for A-levels in photography, media and religious education at Trinity School in Erith Road, Belvedere, he sees his future in weightlifting.
Joe said: “I just want to be an Olympian – even doing local tournaments give me such a buzz.
“There’s not much funding for weightlifting because it’s quite a small sport so I might have to get another job but I want it to be my career.
“Sometimes I can’t go out with my friends when I want to because of training, but it’s worth it.”
Mother Suzanne Brooker said that although Joe’s older brother does bodybuilding, none of the family are sportsmen or women.
She added: “I’m really proud. Every competition he does, we are always there as a family to support him.
“Since he only started two years ago he’s come from nothing and to be accepted into the England squad is amazing.”
Joe’s parents are looking for a sponsor to help with the costs of Joe’s training, including travel to Leeds, protein supplements and specialist food and equipment.
Suzanne said: “It just costs so much money. Joe got a job at a restaurant in Bexleyheath in the summer but he had to give it up after a few weeks because there just wasn’t time with training.”
Morrisons in Erith is already supporting Joe with food but if you think you or your business could help, email firstname.lastname@example.org.