Karenjeet Kaur Bains: First British Sikh Female to represent Great Britain in Olympic Power Lifting

63kg Powerlifter. ACA Chartered. All England Champion. British Champion. Commonwealth Champion and First British Sikh Female to represent GB. Quite the CV Karenjeet Kaur Bains holds at under 25.

Karenjeet Kaur Bains has become the first British-Sikh woman to represent Great Britain in powerlifting. Yet there is a lot more to the multiple Championships and titles that she has won. Her family and background have played an integral role in getting her to where she is today and her story is one worth delving into.

Her first breakthrough came when she was a 17-year old competing in an amateur powerlifting competition. Her raw strength was what made her stand out and propel her promising weight lifting career into a major life passion. As of today, she has accumulated several accolades of which the most notable are the 2019 Commonwealth Championship in the under 63kg category and placing top 10 in the World and European Championships. Over social media and through interviews, Karenjeet expresses how proud she is of her heritage and insists on having her full name wherever and whenever she competes.

Now 24 years old and breaking into the senior circuit, Karenjeet is continuing to add to her already impressive record: she placed in the top 10 at the World and European Championships, claimed her first international title and became the 2019 Commonwealth Champion in the under 63-kilogram junior women’s class. Most recently, she placed in the top two at the British Senior Bench Press Championships. Her best lifts in competition include a 140 kg. squat, 82.5 kg. bench press and a 167.5 kg. deadlift. 

But one of her proudest accomplishments she tells in the sport is being the first British Sikh woman to represent Great Britain in an international powerlifting competition. “I’m very proud of my culture and my heritage,” she says. “It’s almost like I’m making a bit of a stand or a mark for other girls…I like to carry that on my shoulders to be an example. Particularly with strength sports I’ve noticed there are not many Indian girls. I feel like sometimes we’re overlooked. In my culture, we embrace the side of working hard, which I have taken to apply to not only my sporting side but academically, too.” 

That drive to succeed is how Karenjeet achieved first-class honours in accounting from Durham University while also preparing for the World Powerlifting Championships. Crunching numbers, crushing records. It’s all in a day’s work.

Whenever Karenjeet competes, she makes sure to represent her heritage. “I insist on having my full name — Karenjeet Kaur Bains — because the middle name is quite distinctive of a Sikh person…I also wear a kara, a bangle, one of the five religious symbols you can wear as a Sikh person. I have rituals in my head when I’m on the platform and I’m lifting. It helps keep me focused if I think of God,” she explains. 

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