Emmajane Smith stamped her name in the record books as she became the first woman to hoist the Dinnie Stones without using lifting straps.
Dinnie Stones Aloft: Emmajane Smith Makes Historic Lift
by Francis Brebner
President, International Highland Games Federation (IHGF)
Scottish strongwoman Emmajane Smith made history by becoming the first woman in history to lift the Dinnie Stones barehanded.
Saturday, 19 January 2019, was an historic day in the pages of Scottish cultural stonelifting as strongwoman Emmajane Smith of Ayrshire, Scotland became the first woman to lift the Dinnie stones barehanded. Many have made the pilgrimage from all over the world to the Potarch Hotel in Royal Deeside where the Dinnie stones have resided for over 150 years to take up the challenge—with successes and failures. Just six months ago, Leigh Holland-Keen lifted the colossal Dinnie Stones, a total of 735 lb., assisted with hand straps—the first woman captured live on film succeeding in this tremendous feat.
Asking Emmajane Smith about her experience, she replied that it was freezing cold day and there was snow on the ground, perfectly setting the scene. “I had never seen the actual Dinnie stones before, so I spent a bit of time getting to know the stones and making a connection. In training leading up to my attempt with the Dinnie stones, I had lifted more than the combined weight of the Dinnie Stones (using straps) with the killer strength-training handles at Ardblair Castle in December. I knew I could move a combined total of 334 kg (736.5 lb.) quite easily, but the lift feels quite different with the real stones.
“I had the most knowledgeable Dinnie stones lifters around me, so I listened their advice and focused on the bigger stone, and the smaller stone felt as if it levitated off the ground all by itself!
“I was introduced to this type of stonelifting by Charlie Blair Oliphant when he invited me to be the first lady to lift the Ardblair stones. It was after I lifted these stones in December that he encouraged me to go to Potarch and lift the world-famous Dinnie stones. I have been following a powerlifting training program by Delroy McQueen, so I just added in a few lifts with the Dinnie handles in the short time I had to prepare.
“The week before I was due to attempt the Dinnies, it was suggested that I try without straps. A successful unassisted lift had never been done before by a woman, and I got quite excited at the possibility of being the first woman ever to do so. However, I felt it was rather ambitious for me as I hadn’t trained without using straps, but it was a challenge, and this keeps me motivated in setting goals.
“After lifting the Dinnies using my straps and feeling very powerful, I felt confident attempting a second lift unassisted, without straps. It was a huge test of grip strength! I knew if I could keep my grip, the weight would move. All I had to do was put ‘the wind beneath the stones,’ and I managed to do just that!
“I really wanted to get the full lock-out on the unassisted lift, so I actually attempted it more than once to be the first woman to do this, and it felt like the most epic feat of strength that I have done to date and has left me feeling so proud to be Scottish.
“I am very excited to be performing at the IHGF Stones of Strength World Challenge in Fefor, Norway again this year. It is a great honour to be representing my country against the best female athletes in the world. The strength and experience I have gained since my last visit to Fefor gives me great confidence that I will put on a powerful performance in August.”
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