Borders brothers powering on after lockdown hobby leads to medal success

Unable to get out and about after the start of the UK’s first coronavirus lockdown back in March 2020, two brothers began building their own gym at their home in Chesters, and that ingenuity set them on a path to winning national powerlifting medals less than two years later.

By Craig Goldthorp
Monday, 10th January 2022, 11:41 am
Updated Monday, 10th January 2022, 11:58 am
18-year-old Findlay Falconer (right) and his brother Fergus (15) are excelling at powerlifting (Pic by Bill McBurnie)
18-year-old Findlay Falconer (right) and his brother Fergus (15) are excelling at powerlifting (Pic by Bill McBurnie)

Findlay Falconer, 18 and younger brother Fergus, 15, went on to use their self-made gym for several hours daily, seeing them bulk up considerably and Findlay ultimately landing an under-74kg squat gold – having broken the under-18 Scottish record – and Fergus taking an under-66kg silver while breaking three under-16 unofficial records in squat, deadlift and total at a top competition in Lochgelly in Fife.

“Every day, the two boys were in the gym working out and developing their technique,” their mum Linda Lovatt, married to Brian, told the Southern.

“They had no school or anything, and when you’ve got two teenage boys locked up in a lockdown, you need them to get rid of some of their excess energy.

The mullet haircut of Fergus (right) gained special mention during Lochgelly medal presentation (Pic by Bill McBurnie)

“They really progressed quite quickly. They’re never going to be tall boys, but they said if they couldn’t be tall, they were going to be strong.

“They have really broadened out their shoulders and their necks and they have amazing thighs.

“Fergus is the brother with the mullet. When they were giving out the medals at the end of the competition, Fergus got a special mention for the best haircut!

“Me and my husband are very proud of their initiative to do this themselves because we didn’t know anything about powerlifting, so it was all their own doing.

“Beforehand they had just messed about with hand weights and things, but this was the first time that they’d really started taking it seriously.”

Both brothers had previously played rugby – Findlay on the wing and Fergus as flanker – for Jedburgh’s youth teams, but once the first lockdown started 22 months ago, they had to find alternative ways to remain active.

“They are both very physical boys, so they missed rugby desperately and this was a way that they could do stuff from home,” their mum, owner of Jedburgh’s Beastie Assemblage jewellery shop, added.

“They followed a few people on YouTube and Instagram and really got into it.

“We cleared out a small barn for them, and my husband is an engineer so they’ve always been able to learn to weld since they were young and make things for themselves, so they just raided their dad’s workshop for bits of metal and made themselves up a lifting frame, then they got some old chucks from his milling machine and tractor weights – we couldn’t get hold of proper weights – and they did it that way.

“They made a bar, a bench to lie on and their own frame that the bar sits on, so it has safety bars and it doesn’t come crashing down on top of them while they’re trying to lift, and gradually, as they get more used to it now, we’re able to replace some of the stuff with bits that we found on Facebook, Amazon Marketplace and that sort of thing.”

After the shed had been cleared out in March 2020, kit-making work got under way over the next three months, with steel scraps, an old stage from the village hall and old carpets and mirrors from the family home among the items also used as their gym took shape.

Their undertaking has since proved to be well worth the effort, with both boys now national medallists and Findlay, currently studying sports science at Edinburgh University, gearing up for another competition in April.

Fergus, a student at Jedburgh Grammar Campus, also plans to continue powerlifting.

“The boys are very much committed now, especially since they have broken Scottish records for their age groups,” Linda said.

“They know that they’re quite good at it so they’re really pushing it as a full-time career thing.

“They definitely want to enter the British powerlifting competitions this year and maybe Findlay might want to compete at European level as well.”