Welsh weightlifter raises the bar at graduation

A medal-winning weightlifter who juggled crack-of-dawn training sessions with placements on some of Wales’s most demanding NHS wards graduates from Cardiff University this week (Thursday 19th July, 2018).

Rhiannon Dobbs’ graduation ceremony marks the end of her three year adult nursing degree which saw the Oakdale-based athlete combine journeys to Cardiff and her Pontypool-based gym.

“There were many challenges to training while studying, I had to train at 4.30am on days that I had twelve hour shifts. That was really tough,” according to Rhiannon, who first took-up competitive weightlifting in August 2017 following 18 months of CrossFit training.

“I’ve always wanted to do nursing and wanted to go to a University where I could be the best nurse that I could be. As part of my training I undertook placements at the surgical assessment unit in the Heath hospital as I enjoy caring for acutely unwell patients.

“I also loved my hospice placement and my management placement in Nevill Hall on the stroke rehab ward as the support there was brilliant as a student nurse.”

It seems Rhiannon’s competitive fitness and study schedule has finally paid off.

Not only has Rhiannon secured a hat-trick of bronze medal wins at the Welsh Open, Welsh Seniors and British University and College (BUCS) weightlifting championships, she’s also landed a nursing job with Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, starting in September.

And as Rhiannon doffs her cap she insists she could not have done it without the support of her dedicated University tutor and weightlifting coach.

Rhiannon said: “My University personal tutor was very supportive but I couldn’t have done it without my weightlifting club. Massive support was offered there and my coach would even open earlier than usual for me to train before my shifts.”

Not content with landing a nursing job, Rhiannon has set her sights on her next weightlifting challenge - competing in the under-23s British weightlifting championship followed by her second appearance at the Welsh Weightlifting Open later this year.

Rhiannon adds: “I feel that working as a full time staff nurse and training to lift competitively will be difficult, however I enjoy a challenge and my passion for weightlifting is not going to burn out.”

Her coach Justin Holly from Willpower Weightlifting gym in Pontypool, is quick to heap praise.

Justin said: “Rhiannon is one of the most focused and driven athletes that I have coached. Her desire to compete and push herself to success is a quality I greatly respect.

“She places no barrier in front of her goal. 5am training sessions before 12hour shifts. 8am training sessions after working all through the night. This is the person that I know and respect.”

Rhiannon Dobbs graduates at Cardiff’s St David’s Hall on Thursday 19th July at 9.15am.