The Strength Project #3 ~ Imogen Kench-Porter...

By Lucy Harbron - 19:49

“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have”

One of my biggest blessings is that I was lucky enough to grow up with the greatest best friend anyone could possibly hope for. Imogen Kench-Porter has been my best friend for aaages and she's easily one of the strongest people I've ever met, so much so that her ability to pick herself up and grow from hard situations astounds me and inspires me daily.

As well as being just an all-round incredible woman, Immy is also a dedicated athlete as she trains and rows pretty much 24/7. So I wanted to talk to her about the connection between physical and mental strength, and generally hear what a girl that's such a large part of my support system has to say about what strength means to her,,,

Could you tell me what strength means to you?

To me, strength is having the ability to stand against opposition. Whether that be physically, emotionally or socially. Being a sports person, physical strength has been imperative to my progression. However, I think the most profound and important strength is that which we must find within ourselves. People battle through all sorts of things, each requires a particular kind of strength. I think that defines the person you are. I've grown stronger over the last couple of years, having been through certain things. I've learnt a lot about myself from needing to be strong.

Can you tell me about a time when strength was evident in your life?

Struggling with an eating disorder and also the break down of a number of relationships, I fell into quite a tough place. I found strength in those closest to me, but mostly within myself to get back on track. It took me to get to a particularly difficult spot to realise that I needed to make a change. At that point, I knew I needed to re-evaluate. So I had some tough conversations, made some hard decisions but sorted myself out. I prioritised what was important to me and just had to be strong enough to put myself first. Most people don't know much about that time in my life because I felt the need to keep it to myself, I think that's why I needed to find the strength within me to deal with everything.

As an athlete, do you think there's a link between physical and mental strength?

Definitely! I'd say 80% of succeeding in sport is down to mental strength. You have to be tough enough to put yourself in painful positions in order to succeed. Having the strength to train every day, make sacrifices and push yourself to your limits defines athletes.

Do you think strength is something we're born/raised with or something we develop?

I think it's a mixture. In biological terms physical strength can be said to be inherited through the transfer of genes required to build muscle. I think there is an element of mental strength which you're born with, but the majority of it is something you develop based on experiences you have. I know from experience that some people aren't strong, because they've always had it easy and then when things get hard they can't cope. I think if you have to be strong from a young age, you're better equipped to deal with whatever life throws at you. I definitely think strength comes from within, often I think you have to make a choice to be strong.

You've always been important  part of my strength, do you think a solid support base of strong people is necessary for your strength?

Aw! That's a tough one, because I've been through a lot where I've felt the need to be strong myself and not wanted to rely on others. And I think that ability to stand alone at times and take control of your own life is important. But equally, I know the importance of speaking to people and allowing them to help you. I'm extremely lucky to have a boyfriend who has stood by me, even through some of my toughest times. And friends who I've never doubted for a second. There is definitely strength in numbers, but for me the strength is found in small numbers. I find the most strength from those I am closest to, the ones I trust and who I know always want the best for me. So, I do agree that a support network is important to being strong, but personally I prefer that network to be small but close.

Who’s the strongest person you know?

I know a lot of people who are strong in different ways and have had to be strong in so many different situations. Am I allowed two? Well, I'm having two!! Firstly, one friend who will remain nameless but who has been in my life for almost its entirety. She's been through a lot, shitty relationships, depression, self harm, tough times. Through it all, I've tried to stand by her, and she's got through it. Every time something goes wrong, she'll struggle for a bit, but she always finds it in her to get back on track. And I'm exceptionally proud of her for that. My second person will also remain nameless but they've been in my life for 7 years now. The strength I admire in them is their ability to support me, even when their life isn't perfect. They've got me through some of my worst moments. They've had the strength to stand by me, support me and be there through whatever I've put them through. They've pulled down all the walls I'd built up, I understand the strength it's taken for them to not give in. Their strength is in their love.

Could you sum up strength in 3 words?

Overcoming adversity, love


I've been loving making this series so far and I really realllly hope you've all been enjoying it!

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