7r0jdov-9bdb8f6d95a4ebcb3f1a642e1377c1bbd8b5027f_mediumNearly 30 Special Olympics athletes, all with intellectual disabilities, will be taking part in the 2013 National Powerlifting Competition this Friday and Saturday at Hirst Welfare Centre, Ashington.

“Special Olympics Great Britain has been holding National powerlifting events since the early 1990’s,” said Willie Clelland, Special Olympics’ Technical Adviser for Powerlifting in Great Britain and Europe. “All our Special Olympics competitions are performed in a great atmosphere of friendship, enjoyment, endeavour and honesty. Equal recognition and encouragement is given to each and every competitor.”

Competing on Friday will be the six female athletes and the lighter weight male competitors (59 – 74 kg). The heavier weight category (83 – 120kg) will be competing on Saturday. The competitors are drawn from Scotland and Eastern England with the largest delegation coming from Yorkshire and Humberside.

“Powerlifting takes concentration, skill and a great deal of commitment, something that our athletes seem to have in abundance,” said Willie. “It gives the athletes self-confidence, belief in themselves and a great sense of achievement. They really are very dedicated in their approach.”

The competitors, who will be under the watchful eyes of international referees, will be putting in their best performances to ensure their eligibility for the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles in 2015. Laura Smith, Chair of Special Olympics Scotland will be heading up the Great Britain delegation for the World Games and she will be attending the Powerlifting competition to familiarise herself with the athletes.

“Knowing the athletes will be particularly important when we come to selecting the Great Britain team for Los Angeles, so this event provides a great opportunity to observe how the athletes cope with the pressure of competition,” said Laura. “All our athletes receive training from qualified coaches. Taking part in competitions at the various levels that Special Olympics provides – local, regional, national and event international – is really important in developing their confidence and self-esteem. We know that participation in Special Olympics makes a tangible difference to our athletes.”

jigc5h5-28896d3d5417b3e918ec922059ea639ab6688849_mediumOne of the athletes competing in a Special Olympics event for the first time is Joseph Strike (16) from Manningtree in Essex. Joseph is a member of the Suffolk Spartans all-ability powerlifting club. Joseph, joined the club in 2011 and earlier this year became the Unequipped under-18 British Bench Press Champion in the under 59kg class. So he is definitely an athlete to look out for at the Championships.

For those keen to try out the sport of Powerlifting there will be taster sessions during the competition. Anyone with an intellectual disability is welcome to come along on Friday or Saturday and try out one of the lifts: squat, benchpress, deadlift under the supervision of a coach.

Read this article at Special Olympics GB.