Shella Badaseraye is in her gym, talking to a personal training client, when I arrive. They finish their conversation in Spanish and she turns to me and switches effortlessly into English, “Vicki! Hi!” I first met Shella (pronounced Sheila) about six years ago when she was training to become a professional CrossFit athlete and she was working out in my local gym in Santa Ponsa. She was working as a waitress then I remind her as we sit down to do this interview. “Yes, I was!” her face creases as she smiles at me. Is this your gym I ask her looking around, “Yes” she replies proudly, “It is.”

Shella has come a long way since her waitressing days and, as a single parent of a child with disabilities, she’s succeeding against many odds. Shella is originally from Nigeria and moved to Mallorca with her family when she was twelve. She had her daughter Anahí in 2006. Anahí was born with severe physical and intellectual disabilities, and into the Spanish social security system which does not seem to support children like her. “I have to pay for everything she needs,” Shella tells me, “I have been on my own taking care of her, and working to support us since she was little. She goes to school but I have to pay for all of her physiotherapy and any equipment that she needs.” It's a very different situation to that of the UK I mention, there are at least some services, such as respite care, which parents of disabled children have a right to access. “Yes, I know,” Shells nods her head, her sister lives in Manchester and she tells her about what is available there all the time.

Why stay in Mallorca? “Because Mallorca is my home, and I love living here. We spend a lot of time outside in nature, Anahí loves that.” Does she at least have a hoist in the house to help her move Anahí around? Shella shakes her head. I wonder if that might be why Shella has become so strong, because she is not only a hard working single parent with a business, she is also the newest European Masters Weightlifting Champion in the 59kg category having competed in Poland in August.

When did you discover your talent for weightlifting? “I decided to concentrate on it instead of CrossFit because I didn’t have the time it took to become good at so many different things, you have to be good at swimming, at running, at gymnastics and I decided that it was better for me to dedicate myself to weightlifting.” She’s done rather well since making that decision: she is the current Spanish Champion and holds World Records for lifting in her weight and age category. Extraordinary when you consider how she fits everything into her day: caring for her daughter, training herself, and running her business.

“I know I'm strong. My genetics of being a black person mean I have the potential to be very strong. But, my situation is difficult.” Yes, I agree, it’s like God is giving with one hand and taking with the other, we joke. Shella is a diminutive figure, she is about 150 centimetres she thinks, which is under five feet tall. You’re quite close to the ground, I say with a little smile. Small but mighty. How do you cope with the day to day stresses of your life I ask. “I breathe, and I think about things a lot. I don’t make a move without considering how it will affect my daughter.”

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How does it feel when you are competing? What do you do? “I am very serious. I only have myself to rely on. So for me it is a very peaceful moment when I am on the platform about to lift. I am there just for me, not for anyone else, but I am showing the world and my daughter that we will still fight.”

Now Shella is faced with a dilemma: she’s qualified to compete at the World Cup which will take place in Orlando, Florida in December. How can she go when she has to have someone to care for her daughter 24/7 and also get herself and her coach there. How much do you think you need, I ask her. “If I can raise €5000 then I can do it. I have to pay one thousand for a carer for Anahí for the week, I have to get flights for my coach and myself, and we have to stay in a hotel and hire a car for the week.” What about the Weightlifting Federation, could they sponsor? Shella shrugs, they haven’t helped her so far, and she hasn’t got much hope that they will offer any support.

What do you hope to achieve at the competition? “I would like to get the new World record in Snatch, and to equal my World record in the Clean and Jerk, I already have that one.” She says this as easy as, but the reality is that there is still a lot of training, work, and dedication to go before she can put her feet on that platform and show what she can do.

If you would like to support Shella she has started a Go Fund Me for her trip. https://www.gofundme.com/f/ayuda-shella-a-llegar-al-mundial-de-halterofilia

She is 20% of the way there to her goal, “I would pay for it on my own if I could, as I have for all of my life, but I can’t achieve this one on my own, and I need help”. It is rather symbolic, this small, strong woman, being celebrated for her strength, but still having to fight for her place and to shine. I hope that her dream comes true. You can also listen to a longer interview with Shella on the Majorca Mallorca podcast https://majorcamallorca.buzzsprout.com. Finally, you can follow Shella and her journey on her Instagram account @shella_badaseraye