A RECORD-BREAKING headteacher has powered her way onto the podium at an international sporting event.

Lynda Banks represented Great Britain at the European Masters Classic Powerlifting Championships in France last Monday (March 9).

The Cockenzie Primary School headteacher lifted a whopping 320 kilogrammes across the three events in the age 50-59, 63 kilogrammes category, to come home with two bronze medals from the competition in Albi, near Toulouse.

Ms Banks’ powerlifting prowess came about “by pure chance”.

She had started training at a gym in Inverness when she was 48, with a view to being strong enough to complete a chin-up.

That was successfully achieved and a love of deadlifting followed, with the 54-year-old’s first competition in Dumfries in 2014.

Within 18 months, she had a gold medal for deadlifts as part of the British team.

Ms Banks swapped Hilton Primary School in Inverness for East Lothian in October last year, the new head replacing Jacqui MacKinnon, who moved on to North Berwick’s Law Primary School.

The headteacher’s positive mental attitude influences her approach to school leadership, and she has shared with schoolchildren in assembly her experiences competing.

The Edinburgh resident said: “One of our school values is positivity.

“When I competed at the World Championships in Texas I pulled 150kg, which I hadn’t done before, and took overall third place in the world.

“Having a positive attitude is so important.

“We work to foster a sense of school achievement, with a wall where pupils and staff are encouraged to share a wide range of their achievements such as chanter, diving, rock climbing, so we can all celebrate them.”

The children also enjoy seeing her collection of medals, which she keeps in her office.

Five days after making the move to Cockenzie Primary School and nursery, which is home to 463 pupils, Ms Banks was competing in the British Championships, retaining her title in her age and weight category for the fifth successive year, and achieving three personal bests: squat 117.5kg, bench press 67.5kg and total 330kg, having deadlifted 145kg, too.

It was this performance that led to an invitation to take part in Team GB in Albi.

The headteacher primarily trains in Edinburgh, although she has started attending Meadowmill Sports Centre, to help fit her training around her busy school schedule.

She also works with a nutritionist and said: “I want to be as strong as I can to compete and stay at a healthy weight.

“I eat healthily – I eat a lot of chicken, rice and porridge and drink plenty of water.

“However, I can still have cake if I want to!”