Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chinese weightlifting team makes uplifting visit to North Wales

The Chinese Weightlifting Association brought their world beating weightlifting team – including three current Olympic champions – to Bangor for a pre Games training camp in preparation for the London 2012 Olympic Games from 4-10 August 2011. Arguably the world’s greatest weightlifting team, China won eight gold medals from 15 available at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and are hotly tipped to continue their dominance at London 2012.
Welsh Weightlifting Federation Head Coach, Ray Williams, worked closely with the Welsh Government to bring the Chinese to picturesque North Wales. He spoke to Sport Wales about what the visit means to the area and how he hopes to learn from the experience and use it to lift Welsh Weightlifting to even greater heights.
Ray Willimas, Welsh Weightlifting Coach
“It was a hugely exciting event for the country to have the best weightlifting team in the world based here in North Wales. Sport Wales have been terrific with their support to make this a reality. Bangor University have also been superb in every respect. They provided an executive chef and total autonomy of the gym. The Chinese delegation could not get a better package.
“It was a very timely visit now that we have the re-branded Holyhead and Anglesey Weightlifting and Fitness Centre. It’s an education for me and our other coaches to learn from the Chinese and I’m hoping to get some time in Beijing with them in return, which will be fantastic! Welsh weightlifting can only benefit.
“It’s the icing on the cake to have the greatest weightlifting country on earth visit our beautiful little country that’s produced so many great champions. A lot of hard work went into securing their visit but they applied to come to Holyhead (as well as Leeds Carnegie’s World class Lifting High Performance Centre). The good thing is that we got them here to this beautiful area and I have had the chance to take notes and dilute some of what they do and apply that to our training.
“They have 500 weightlifters in their national team. It’s professional amateurism to the extreme. We are doing our best to support our best athletes – and we’re not far off in some sports – but weightlifting has always been a performance rather than a participation sport, so our talent pool is much smaller. People confuse Olympic Weightlifting with Power Lifting but things like Cross Lifting are making the sport more accessible. It might take a few years to catch on but hopefully more and more people will be attracted to this brilliant sport.
“It’s my dream to one day provide a closed, total environment for lifters living in Holyhead and to be able to pay them. It’s the only way. Malaysian athletes go into residential training from the age of 12 – Gareth Evans (62kg Welsh weightlifter), on the other hand, is a painter and decorator. If we can offer total vocational training we’d be on a much more level playing field. The Pacific Rim countries and Canada all train in a total environment and the gulf is a million miles away with what we’re doing currently.
“It was a great coup to have the Chinese team here in Bangor. They could have gone to Leeds (where the GB Team train) but we’re rightly proud that they chose us instead. I think, without a doubt, that they’ll come back and base themselves here in the run up to London 2012. We can offer an environment for total concentration and immersion in what they do, without any distractions – which is what you need when you’re preparing for a major championship.”

The Chinese Olympic Weightlifting Team’s visit to North Wales was made possible thanks to the Welsh Government and Anglo-Chinese Sports and Culture Association (ACSCA) in partnership with Bangor University, Welsh Weightlifting Federation, Gwynedd Council and Sport Wales.
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