Wales’ strongest marriage: How power couple find strength in each other

Married Sam Taylor and Sue Taylor-Franklin are breaking record after record

IT’S often said in gym circles that the couple that trains together, stays together.

Sam, the third strongest woman in the world, and Sue, a deadlifting world record holder, have some obvious hobbies in common. Together they make up Wales’ strongest couple.

Between them they have a combined deadlift of 530 kilograms (83 stone) – the weight of around six men.

These two Welsh women also hold a Guinness World Record for, together, pulling a 48-tone plane 20 metres in 37 seconds.  

Sam, 45, won her third strongest woman in the world title in 2021 and Sue, 55, has broken the world record for the heaviest deadlift by a woman off an 18-inch platform at 300kg (47 stone). 

However, these ladies were not always the power couple they are today.

When I sat down with the couple to record a podcast – which you can hear in full below – revealed the shared experiences that helped them trust one another.

Sam, who began her fitness journey a couple of years before Sue in 2016, said it all began when she came out of an abusive relationship which led her to an attempted suicide. 

Sam said: “I was just looking for coping mechanisms and bizarrely I found the gym.

“I joined one of these 24-hour gyms and started going at one o’clock in the morning so no one would see me because I didn’t know what I was doing.”

Sam Taylor in her and Sue’s private gym in Aberdare. Image: Bethan Wild

Sam, who was in the abusive relationship for four years, said: “It is always assumed that it was a man – but, no, it was with a woman. There were a couple of incidents where it was physically abusive, but it was mainly mental. 

“Having worked with women who had been in abusive relationships – I knew how to get out of it – but it is really not easy when you are in it.”

Sue, who had also previously been in an abusive relationship, said: “My first proper gay relationship was very physical, and I think that’s why Sam and I respect each other so much. 

“But I was the same. We were together for four years and I was beaten black and blue – in the end I didn’t know who I was as a person.”

Sat side-by-side, Sam and Sue discussed how the gym helped them regain their confidence and mental strength.  

Sam explained: “When I look back now, I think I was subconsciously trying to build an armour. I thought if I look strong no one will ever do that to me again.”

Sue said: “For me, I think I got that strength that was mental but also physical – I think you can only get kicked so many times before you have to rise up.”

Sue Taylor-Franklin coaching her wife Sam on at their gym. Image: Bethan Wild

In 2018, Sam and Sue began chatting online. Sam, who had been training for more than two years already, had just gained her personal trainer qualification. 

Sue said: “I had lost quite a lot of weight, about five stones, and I had eventually plateaued in the weight loss. 

“So, Sam really encouraged the weight-lifting and we started training together. And, I mean, I was nearing 50 and thought ‘I cant be lifting weights like that’. But turns out I could.” 

The two ladies are the only married couple to go head-to-head on the world weightlifting stage. In the Brits Womens Masters 2020 the couple put up a close fight with Sam claiming first place and Sue second. 

However, due to a motorcycle accident suffered at the age of 17, Sue has had ongoing issues with her knee. Over time the osteoarthritis has worsened. 

Sue was told that the NHS waiting list for a knee replacement was around four to five years. 

“It has really impacted my mental health not being able to train at all,” said Sue.

To get Sue competing again before she is 60 years old, Sam set up a GoFundMe in the hopes that they will be able to go private. 

A determined Sue said: “I will compete again. I won’t stop here. It is my goal.”

Sue being unable to train has also had a significant impact on Sam’s training. 

“We have trained together since 2018, we were each other’s motivation. If Sue lifted heavy, I would be motivated to lift heavier, so yeah, I have been struggling to find that motivation,” said Sam. 

For now, Sue is taking on a more coaching role in Sam’s training.

Sam is currently two weeks into her eight weeks of intense training for Wales’ Strongest Woman in May. 

Neither women partake in strict calorie counting but they keep a rough estimate when training. 

On the run up to the competition Sam will intake around 4,500 calories a day, focusing on a high protein intake and a substantial amount of carbs to fuel her body ready for the weight-lifting.  

Sam is currently training four and five times a week with each session being two to three hours long.