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Elite sport — 24-year-old Mette is a sports science student, has a supplementary subject in Danish, and a student job in the health club Fitness DK. And she is an Olympic weightlifter on the Danish national team.
Mette Pedersen stands, bent over a barbell with two weight plates at each end. Her gaze is focused and determined. She looks down at her hands firmly planted on either side of the bar and stands, a few seconds, completely motionless.
Then she tilts her foot slightly, adjusts her grip and raises the bar above her head. The arms shake precariously when she straightens up, but a wry, triumphant, smile comes over her lips, when she stands – with 82 kg over her head and arms extended.
In social terms, I’ve definitely lost something on my study programme due to my sport
As soon as she lets go of the weight, which bangs down to the floor, she claps her hands, and a cloud of chalk goes up as she walks out of the picture with her arms raised in triumph.
Mette Fasmilla Pedersen is a sports science student with a subsidiary subject in Danish, and an Olympic weightlifter. In order to explain what a weightlifting competition is actually about, she has sent two videos. One is in the discipline ‘snatch’, the other is in the discipline ‘clean and jerk’. These are the two disciplines that Mette Pedersen travels the world competing in. The scene described above is from the video on the snatch – a discipline where Mette Pedersen can lift 83 kg. In the video with a clean and jerk lift, she’s standing with
Her career as a weightlifter began in upper secondary school, where Mette Pedersen after many years as an elite swimmer, changed her focus and started to lift heavy weights, instead of swimming fast. Two weekly training session became more, and “suddenly” – the year after –she got to the Danish championships. Since then it has turned into many contests, competitions and championships, and today Mette Pedersen both has a place on the national team and several Danish records under her belt.
But it is not always easy to balance a life as a full-time student with the quest to become one of the world’s strongest women. Mette Pedersen has to take care of six weight training sessions a week, a student job in the Fitness DK health club and a full-time degree programme. This means that she has to say no to many social events, and that she often has every minute of the day scheduled before it has even begun.
“I don’t hang around after the lecture. Because if I do, my schedule falls apart. In social terms, I’ve definitely lost something on my study programme due to my sport. But my fellow students have always accepted my choice. They follow me my competition life, and I am always invited – despite the fact that I often have to say no,” she says.
Academically, Mette Pedersen’s dedication to weight lifting has also left its mark. In order to spread out the study programme’s workload and to balance her academics and her sports, she has had to postpone several subjects.
“I need one single subject on my bachelor, which I am taking this spring. And then I am finished,” she says and continues:
I was close to losing my place on the national team. “It was really hard because I knew that I could do a lot more than what I showed in this period
“But in the end the study programme is the most important.”
Mette Pedersen, however, is happy that she has not yet been in a situation where it has been necessary to choose between lifting and reading. Things were close, during the first years of her study programme:
“The many practical subjects on the study programme meant that I was unable to work out as much as I used to. I was constantly in a state of overtraining – but without actually training a lot of weights. My lack of sporting progress also meant that I was close to losing my place on the national team. “It was really hard because I knew that I could do a lot more than what I showed in this period.”
Today, more than two years later, Mette Pedersen is still hard at it. 2018 has been her best sporting year ever, and she is at the same time putting the finishing touches on her bachelor’s project, which is to be submitted in January. From a sporting perspective, 2018 gave her nine Danish records, a title as Danish champion, and trips to the Nordic Championships, the World University Games and the World Championships.
In fact, it is only a few weeks ago that Mette Pedersen came home from the World Championships, which were held this year in Turkmenistan. Since the start of the semester, she has had more than a full month of travelling.
“Fortunately, my bachelor’s buddy is really understanding, so it has not actually been a problem to get things to work,” she says.
However, there is no indication that the travelling activity will stop on the other side of the new year and let Mette Pedersen complete her bachelor’s degree in peace. There is both the Danish Championships in March and a European Championships in April. The European Championships are a week after Mette Pedersen’s last exam.
“I already know now that it will be an extraordinary period of high pressure. But with some good planning, I can take care of both things. I hope I can celebrate my bachelor’s degree with the weightlifting national team in Georgia.”
And it is not enough for Mette Pedersen to just perform reasonably at the European Championships. She has been hoping to beat her own record in clean and jerk by 2 kg – and thereby round the magic 100 kilos.
“Yes, it would be great to be able to celebrate my bachelor’s degree with a 100 kg clean and jerk lift.”
Today, there are only five other Danish women in Mette Pedersen’s class that can lift 100 kg or more in the snatch discipline.