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Derby weightlifters to 'raise the bar' in Australia

FOUR Derbyshire-based weightlifters will be jetting out to Australia next month (3-9 September) to take part in the Commonwealth Championships in the Gold Coast to potentially secure a place at next year’s Commonwealth Games.


L to R Kelly-Jo Robson, Rooni Siraj, Cyril Martin, Chris Freebury and Laura Hewitt


Alongside rigorous training, the athletes - all based at Atlas Gym in Alfreton -have been working to raise the £2300 needed to compete individually, as Olympic Weightlifting no longer receives funding from UK Sport National Lottery Funding.

The group of weightlifters have varied experience and will be competing in different classes with: Chris Freebury competing in 69kg class, Emily Campbell competing in 90kg+ class, Kelly-Jo Robson competing in 48kg class and Rooni Siraj competing in 62kg class.

Chris Freebury, a British weightlifting champion and two time commonwealth games athlete, is eager to raise the profile of weightlifting on a national stage through taking part in the championships. He said: “ If selected, this will be my third commonwealth games for England in weightlifting, while the commonwealth championships will be the first international event for many of my teammates - who have yet to compete outside of the UK. We have all been working really hard and it’s fantastic that we have so many talented weightlifters locally.

“Ever since funding was cut for male weightlifters in 2012 and for women earlier this year, it has been difficult for athletes like those from Atlas Gym to raise the funds necessary to compete abroad in qualification events ahead of the commonwealth games next April. Although we have secured some funding through Sport England – we still have a long way to go, which is why we need to raise awareness of the sport locally.

“The community is great here and we have also received fantastic support at Atlas.  Our coach Cyril Martin voluntarily does all of our programming and coaches us six days a week, which is a fundamental part of our success, while Great Britain National coach and Atlas’ owner Dave Sawyer has subsidised our training ever since the funding cuts.”

Olympic weightlifting contests two lifts, the snatch and the clean and jerk, and the winner is the competitor who records the heaviest combined total.

Alongside the four athletes who will be participating in the championship next month, Laura Hewitt who competes in the 58kg class is also looking to qualify for the Commonwealth Games next year.

Chris added: “I am so proud of everything our team has achieved in recent months and I am certain we will make the Midlands and England proud when we put on that England kit we've earned and compete in Australia this September!”

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