A WOMAN from Barry who only started training two years ago has broken a remarkable world record this week.
On Sunday Sue Thomas-Franklin and her wife Sam Taylor broke the world record for the fastest time to pull an Airbus A320 more than 20 metres, at an astonishing 37.63 seconds.
Their 10-year-old son Ollie and coaches cheered them on at an otherwise deserted St Athans eCube as the pair hauled the 48-tonne plane to victory.
No strangers to internationally-acclaimed feats, the pair – who now live in Llanrumney – have a host of records and medals between them in what they describe as a “whirlwind couple of years”.
Prior to Sunday, Sue, 52, also had two British deadlifting records, and nine mixed powerlifting records – achieved in just two years after she started training a week after her 50th birthday.
Sam, 42, achieved second place as Europe’s Strongest Woman in 2019, qualifying for the Official Strongman Games World’s Strongest Woman in Florida.
She also boasts records for two years running for the 90kg squats, benches and deadlifts for Wales.
Sam explained how Sunday was a culmination of a strange twist of fate.
“Sue got a call late January asking if we’d be interested in breaking a world record, and the guy on the phone suggested we try and pull a plane,” Sam said.
“It was so weird, because two years ago while on holiday in Dubai, I had a thought that I’d like to try and break a record as the first Welsh woman to pull a plane.
“The idea had fallen by the wayside a bit, until we got that call from Guinness World Records.”
Asked whether she thought twice about it, Sue explained: “You must be joking, I didn’t even ask Sam – I just said yes. It’s not every day you get asked if you’d like to pull a plane.
“We thought we were pulling a 16-tonne plane, but when we got there we realised it was a 48-tonne Airbus!”
“We didn’t know whether we’d be able to do it, but the only way to find out was to give it our best shot. But when we got there on Sunday it did feel as though failing wasn’t an option.
“The day was great, even though it would have been really nice to have people cheering us on. It was a little strange, because we’re usually competing against each other. Sam is very competitive – so I’m glad she was on my side this time.”
The pair attend GymVision in Pontprennau – currently closed due to Covid restrictions – and Sam knows all about the positive impact a gym can have on mental health.
“The gym saved me really,” she recalled. “In 2016 I’d attempted suicide and was in a really dark place.
“I found myself playing football for a local women’s team, and that’s where my life took a turn for the better. I started going to the gym, which after years of trying various medications to solve whatever I was going through, is where I finally found my cure for the mental health issues I’d suffered.
“Gym became my escape, and my experiences prior to that became my drive to achieve as much as I could in powerlifting.”
Since they started powerlifting the pair have been subjected to awful trolling on social media regarding their size and sexuality.
“We tend to get a lot of negativity,” Sam said. “Often it centres around things like ‘which one is the man?’ and that sort of thing. It’s tough, but we won’t stop – you don’t stop when you get into powerlifting, we’ve achieved quite a lot in just a couple of years.”
But the pair say they have seen genuine change, and this has been the most positive reaction they’ve experienced in the aftermath of another achievement.
“It’s been really nice on the whole, and we’re grateful for that support,” Sue added. “I think people are thinking twice about what they say on social media, which is good to see. We know we’re big girls – we wouldn’t be pulling a 48-tonne plane if not.”