To have the opportunity to represent your country in your chosen sport is the ambition of many.
Despite their best efforts, not too many get the opportunity to do so for a variety of reasons.
However, in the case of Elayne Ahern working out in her shed and dedicating hours upon hours to training saw that ambition come true earlier this year.
Add in the fact that Elayne is a single mum with two active girls to look after and her achievement is all the more remarkable.
Elayne is a Master Bikini Fitness Model and got the opportunity to represent Ireland at the European Championships earlier this year.
Although always into fitness Elayne never lifted a weight until 2016 and now in her early 40s has taken it to a whole new level and achieved one of her ambitions by representing Ireland at the European Championships, and finished in the top 10, a superb result.
Next weekend Elayne will be competing in the RIBBF (Republic of Ireland Boby Building Federation) competition at the Hibernian Hotel at Mallow.
“My life has been a rollercoaster and over time I have done a degree in social care, but during that, I took some time out when my children were born,” said Elayne.
“When I finished that in 2016 I treated myself to a six-week strength and conditioning course. I had been used to running but had done some wear and tear on my hip so I had to think of an alternative.
“I had done a fitness course in 2006 and had a qualification in that behind me so I was always into fitness. But that six-week S&C course changed my life.
Lifting weights was something I hadn’t done in a long time and I never thought I would get the headspace that you get from running, but now I would never go back to running.
“Mentally it brought me into a different place and it wasn’t as taxing on the body as running. I got a personal trainer then, Michael at Catalyst Gym in Carrigaline and he was the one who said to me ‘why don’t you do competitions?’”
Taking his advice Elayne decided to start competing and got off to a great start.
“I then did my first competition in 2017, it was the Spring Classic in Limerick and I won that competition. I then did a competition with the RIUP in Louth and won that as well and also won the overall on that day.
“Because of that I got a pro card which allowed me to compete in a show in London and I won my category over there as well.”
It takes a lot of dedication to get to that level, in such a short space of time and Elayne said there were motivating factors in her own personal life that led her to this. Elayne said that she feels sport is very important to help people go down the right road and believes in supporting her children in that way. She has always encouraged them to be active.
But then lockdown hit and like everybody else Elayne had to adjust her lifestyle.
“I have a shed out the back and I got a few bits of equipment, dumbbells, and a few weights and I had a treadmill for the cardio then as well, as I couldn’t leave the kids during the lockdown.
“I would then do cardio seven days a week and then weight train six days a week. I would usually get up about 5am and do the cardio and then the weights later in the day.
“I would normally do that when they were busy but sometimes they would come out and help me or train with me. I always believe you can manage things or give out about things and I manage things and get solutions.
“My life has changed direction so many times, you are going along and bang something hits and you have to regroup and think how am I going to manage?
“That has happened so many times so lockdown was just right, how do I manage this?
“And I said what am I looking to do? My dream was to represent Ireland and I did that in May this year at the European Championships. To qualify you have to take part in the national championships and if you are first or second you then get the chance to represent Ireland.
That was my goal to get the tracksuit and represent Ireland and I loved it. I thought at 42 I would never have the chance to do so.
"That’s one of the great things about bodybuilding it gives you the opportunity to do so with the different categories.
“It’s amazing that you don’t have to say I have to give up now as there are people still competing in their 50s, so it’s great. It’s super to see and to be able to compete at that level when we are a bit older.”
Looking to the future Elayne wants to focus on working with people around her age and families in the area of nutrition and coaching but for now, all her focus is on Sunday and hopefully adding another title to her impressive trophy cabinet.
Not bad for someone who only picked up weights for the first time a few short years ago.