Caroline Oliver is a International Fitness Champion who represents Great Britain on the World stage. She is a Multiple European and British Fitness Champion in several disciplines having been competing in the Sport of Bodybuilding and Fitness for the last 10 years. Her greatest achievements have been placing 4th at the Fitness World Championships in 2017 and placing 6th at the prestigious IFBB Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic in 2013, while back in 2008 she won her first British title in only her second year of competition.
Caroline grew up on a council estate / project in Sheffield in the UK. Growing up with her Father and Mother and 3 younger sisters she had quite a happy childhood despite the family not being rich by any stretch of the imagination. At the age of around 12, her Mother contracted Breast cancer when she was just 32 which would quickly became the biggest challenge that the family would ever face, especially as at the time, no one knew how long her Mother had to live. Caroline remembers that she had to have treatment and everything went on as normal but then tragically, when she was 36 the cancer came back and spread and unfortunately she passed away at the young age of 37. After that Caroline recalled “It was really hard for my dad when my mum passed away having to bring up four girls on his own. I had to grow up and I had to grow up fast and there were definitely a lot of obstacles I had to overcome.
When we asked Caroline how she first got started in sport as a child, she told us she started playing sport when she was about 13. Her PE teacher had spotted her and immediately let her know how talented she thought she was. As a result, she started playing Netball for the school team and it wasn’t long before she was taking the top spots from some of the best athletes in school. She was also good at athletics and excelled at sprinting, she also played rounders throughout school, so really was an allrounder who was always in the midst of the action. When she left school she continued to play Netball but also played football at the highest level and had the honour of playing in the first ever Sheffield United ladies team ,with United having always been one of the biggest Professional clubs in England.
Caroline had even begun training in the gym and lifting weights a few years earlier and after she finished playing football, that would be where she would focus her energies over the coming years. In 2008 she was encouraged by a relative to enter a Bodybuilding / Fitness competition, even though she’d never even been to watch one. In that very first competition, which was a regional qualifier, she placed an incredible 3rd out of more than 20 competitors and was invited to compete at the prestigious British Championships. The following year Caroline would return with a renewed confidence. She had had an amazing rookie season and knew she had the talent to take the regional title that had narrowly alluded her the year before. Not only did she win that title but she went on to win the British Championships in only her second year of competition. After that Caroline decided to focus exclusively on the Fitness Category which involves a lot more gymnastics and acrobatics, with less focus on the physique. Remarkably she went onto become British Champion in that discipline too before moving onto the International stage where Caroline would go onto have a number of successes at the Highest level.
Caroline admits that it was Sport that gave her an outlet from a lot of the pain she went through as a child with her Mother’s passing and that it was sport that helped her with a lot of he challenges she faced at the time. She told us: “I was always very sporty and if I didn’t have sport I don’t know what I would’ve done. I struggled through my exams and definitely rebelled a little against my Step – Mother and left home quite early. At the time going through my exams and trying to look after my three younger sisters was tough and obviously school just wasn’t the main focus, which ended up with me leaving without the grades I needed. I was upset a lot at the time and used to think why can’t my mum and dad still be together now and ask: Why did my mum have to be taken away from us. In the end though, I used that upset as my motivation. I’d always said to my mum before she passed that I was always going to be a PE teacher and that always stuck with me. I was determined to achieve that goal. I did all that and more as I went to college and eventually got the grades I required, then on to University and finally achieved my dream of becoming a teacher, as well as an International athlete
Knowing that Caroline has a deep faith in God we asked her how that has come about and what part it played in her life. She said: “My Mum was always religious but my Dad not so much. He didn’t really come to church but my mum always made sure we went and even in the school holidays, we went to all the church clubs that there were and so it was a big part of my upbringing. I admit I lost my faith a little bit when I lost my mum because obviously I was upset about why she’d been taken away from us. I felt lost, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t lose my faith completely, I mean I didn’t turn my back on God. I just thought why but then when I started thinking about all the promises I’d made my mum my faith started to grow and it started to come back and I started to believe and to believe in myself as well. I started to get stronger and I knew God was there I knew that whatever I was doing and whatever was happening was meant to happen and that God was there, I didn’t always feel like he was but I knew that he was and was helping me, that’s just what I felt deep down inside I just knew it.”
It was obvious Caroline had become a stronger person throughout her journey and so we asked her what she would want you all to learn from her story and what her Final message would be to you guys and here’s what she said: “I want you to believe in yourselves and realise that the situation that you’re in isn’t always going to be perfect but I want you to try and always look at the bigger picture, have aspirations and try as hard as you can to reach them. For me I always said I was going to be a PE teacher and I’ve done it against all odds against everything that was thrown at me and become an international champion. Every challenge and every obstacle I’ve overcome and to get to my dream hasn’t been easy and it still isn’t easy but I’ve done it and that’s what counts
I think that God has a place for everyone and is not you might not be sure what direction you want to go in at the minute are you might be really struggling you just Got to believe and have faith you’re going to have bad times before the good times and sometimes the bad times seem like there forever but the good times welcome and you just got to stay strong. So whatever you do. I want you to promise me you’ll never give up even if you’re surrounded by darkness, know God is there with you, so keep working hard and you’ll get your reward.
Having achieved so much already Caroline’s still not finished yet. She doesn’t have any competitions planned at the moment and is just focused on training hard and has simply told us for now to watch this space and that we certainly will and know when she does compete again it will definitely be worth watching.