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Meet the 29-year-old nurse who just made history lifting 733 pounds

Abby Haglage
Yahoo Lifestyle
Leigh Holland-Keen became the second woman in history to lift the 773-pound Dinnie Stones, and the first woman to complete a full lift. (Photo: Instagram, Leigh Holland-Keen)

When Leigh Holland-Keen first attempted to lift Scotland’s famous Dinnie Stones last year, she couldn’t get them off the ground. A combined 773 pounds, they’re the ultimate symbol of strength for weightlifters. But instead of deterring her, the failure served as fuel — prompting the 29-year-old Australian nurse to spend the next 12 months training to get back to the hotel in Potarch, Scotland, where they reside, and try again. 

Her second try proved to be a charm.

Holland-Keen successfully lifted both stones briefly on Sunday — becoming just the second woman in history to do so (the other was Jan Todd in 1979). In a video of the feat, which ESPNW posted on Instagram, spectators can be heard urging Holland-Keen to “be the first.”


By “first,” they’re likely referencing to the fact that Todd, the American woman who lifted them in 1979, was only granted a partial lift — meaning that if Holland-Keen lifted both, she’d be the first woman to achieve that goal. It’s safe to say “mission accomplished,” and she couldn’t be prouder.

“I tried it [last year] and was very close, so I thought maybe I could actually do these within the next couple of years,” Holland-Keen told The Guardian. “My mum and I made it our goal to train and get these up.” Holland-Keen, who has been going to the gym since her early teens, says the journey to her goal was part of the fun.

“It’s good to constantly challenge yourself. If the first time you try, you can’t lift it up, it’s something to work towards,” she told The Guardian. “You keep persevering and then you can do it. It feels good to achieve it.”

The two stones, which are fixed with metal handles, weigh 318.5 pounds and 414.5 pounds, respectively. Lifting them takes more than physical strength, Holland-Keen said. “It’s mental. Obviously, there’s a lot of training, but you do a lot of visualization on the day,” she told news.com.au. “It made me realize how much mental strength it takes to do it by watching these big guys — who I knew could lift it easily — and they were failing because they weren’t there mentally.”

Becoming just the second woman to get the stones off the ground, and the first woman to fully lift both stones, is a major feat — one that only 90 men have achieved. Holland-Keen hopes that it proves women are just as capable as men are. “Society is slowly accepting females lifting weights and getting stronger,” she said. “There’s still a common myth that lifting weights, you will gain too much muscle and lose femininity. It’s not true … It’s good to be strong, it’s badass, and I love it.”

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