Friday, April 27, 2012

#communitysport blog: Ray Williams

Our latest blog in our Community Sport series comes from Ray Williams. The 53-year-old former Royal Welch Guard Fusilier won gold at the 1986 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games and now proudly holds the title of Welsh Weightlifting Federation Head Coach.

Ray is a pillar of the Holyhead community and his Mill Bank club, that produced London 2012 hopeful Gareth Evans, has enjoyed a considerable ‘beefing up’ in Olympic year. He received some serious ‘spotting’ thanks to considerable partnership investment worth more than £300,000, to give his community club a major extension. 

Ray Williams with Olympic hopeful Gareth Evans and
Commonwealth bronze medallist Bob Wrench

It’s been about four years since we started to seek funds for what is now the Holyhead and Anglesey Weightlifting and Fitness Centre.

It’s an immense improvement and we’re hugely excited. It opens another chapter in the club’s history which is 40 years long and produced champions. This environment is going to be conducive for producing more for years and years and decades after I’ve gone.

It’s been a collaboration between families, friends, different amateur groups over a long period of time and every one of them we thank. Like any small town Holyhead has its negative aspects but this centre is a huge positive that will help the youngsters but also people in their 50s, 60s, 70s to do something that I’m passionate about; and that’s keep fit.

If we're going to create a nation of champions here in Wales we need excellent facilities. We've had fantastic weightlifting success on the world stage over the decades. But weightlifting is still a minority sport that we need to grow at the grassroots level to increase our talent pool and keep our winning ways going.

We’re always trying to nurture the next tranche of champions and I’m now working with all five secondary schools on Anglesey.

Now we’ve got more training space we’re going to be able to make it available to more people to use and with that increased reach it’s inevitable that we’re going to produce more champions. I look forward to that and I’d also like to say a big good luck to Gareth Evans, one of our greatest weightlifters of a generation from the club, as he closes in on a place at London 2012.

I think it was 1948 the last time we held the Olympic Games and I think there’s going to be a huge excitement and it’s going to build in these months as we get closer to London. I’d like to think that there’ll be an increase in the popularity of our sport but I think it comes down to people like me to make people aware that we’re here and then to sell the sport.

I’d say to anyone, from any sport, to do Olympic weightlifting as a by-product of what you do and it’s a phenomenal explosive sport to be involved in. So join a local club or come and see me.  

This blog was written in conjunction with the launch of a strategy for Community Sport in Wales.  If you’d like your say, get involved in the debate on twitter – using the hashtag #communitysport and you can mention us @sport_wales