Westerville woman, 4th strongest in the world, to compete in The Arnold

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Inside the Ludus Magnus gym on West Rich Street, there's a legend.

A legend who, this weekend, will be competing in the Arnold for the third time in four years and is one of the top four strongest women in the entire world.

When she's not at home, the gym is where Brooke Sousa spends most of her time.

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"This is my playground, right here," she said.

Sousa says Ludus Magnus has helped her get to where she is.

"It started with a goal to get to the Arnold my very first year of training," she said.

In 2015, she qualified for the 2016 Arnold. She competed again in 2017. In July of last year, she won the Strongest Woman in the World competition in Norway, which qualified her for this year's Arnold Sports Festival.

She says the first two Arnold competitions were filled with personal struggles and failures, but she was determined not to give up.

"It's the experience, it's the confidence that you get from each competition," she said. "It's seeing for your kids to see that you don't give up on a goal just because it gets hard."

This year, she's competing in the 220 pound axle press, the 220 pound stone-to-shoulder event, the 300 pound stone carry, the 375 pound dead lift and the one she's most looking forward to; the 540 pound frame carry.

Sousa says it's about being confident.

"You learn confidence with every competition, so why wouldn't I be at this point," she said, smiling.

She's confident and cared for. Her daughters, 13-year-old Zoe and 8-year-old Sophia, help her along the way.

"They make sure my food is prepped and I'm getting the amount of sleep that I need at this point and time to get stronger, and we're all on the same page," Sousa said.

Believe it or not, Sousa says she doesn't care about winning.

"You know, you don't have to be number one to be successful," she said.

She cares about her goals and pushing herself and having the will to continue to compete.

Sousa is also a personal trainer at Ludus Magnus and founded The M Foundation, which is a strength training program for kids with autism.

Sousa's events are Friday and Saturday during the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus.