Power-lifting duo commit to success

LONDON 2012 may be the main goal for Suffolk's aspiring Paralympians - but even with four years of hard training to go two young powerlifters have already committed themselves to building a legacy well beyond that.

Stuart Watson

LONDON 2012 may be the main goal for Suffolk's aspiring Paralympians - but even with four years of hard training to go two young powerlifters have already committed themselves to building a legacy well beyond that.

Last Wednesday the 2008 Beijing Paralympics came to an end, with the closing ceremony officially marking the handover of the Games to London with the exchanging of a flag.

Thousands of miles away, in the Suffolk town of East Bergholt, 2012 hopefuls Zoe Newson and Chris Rix were already proving their commitment, not only to Britain's push for medals in four years time, but also at the many Games after that.

Recognising how much powerlifting has done for their lives, the duo have decided to become coaches in the sport themselves so that they can further increase the opportunities that disabled people in Suffolk have to take part in sport.

They will be funded through their training via a new Disability Sport Coaching Bursary scheme which has been set up in partnership by Suffolk County Council, Suffolk disability charity Optua and Suffolk Sport.

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The scheme, which will be run by Optua's Suffolk Disability Sport Academy, aims to create 50 new or better qualified disability sports coaches in the county.

Dwarf Newson has come on leaps and bounds in the past 18 months. The 16-year-old, who weighs just 40kg, can now lift 62.5kg and is heavily tipped to be part of Great Britain's 2012 Paralympic squad.

Rix, who has cerebral palsy, is making similarly rapid progress. The 23-year-old, although slightly further off the Paralympic pace, can now lift 110kg.

The duo, who both train with the Suffolk Spartans Disabled Powerlifting Club at East Bergholt Sports Centre, help form a trio of competitors at the club who could well be part of the 2012 Paralympics.

Their 15-year-old club mate Nathaniel Wilding, who also has cerebral palsy, can lift 95kg at present and, like Newson, big things are expected of him.

It means that, out of a membership of 14, the Suffolk Spartans have three British champions at their respective weights and three lifters on the development plan designed to create podium finishers for Team GB in 2012.

Spartans coach Louise Pennell said: “It's great that Zoe and Chris are looking at taking up coaching at such a young age.

“With the Paralympics having just finished the money is there so it's important they take advantage of that now because, in five years time, it might not be.”

Councillor Lisa Chambers, Suffolk County Council's Portfolio Holder for Economic and Cultural Development, said: “Suffolk County Council is delighted to be involved with this project because it has the potential to leave a very real legacy for disability sport in Suffolk on the back of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

“The Games is more than just a couple of weeks of top class sport in 2012 it's about using it as an inspiration to get more people actively involved in sport whether as a participant, as a coach or as a volunteer. This project will help achieve that.”

Colin Poole, Chief Executive of Optua, added: “We are delighted to be part of this new initiative which will ultimately see more people in Suffolk able to coach and inspire disabled people to take part in sports.

“We have seen the magnificent achievements of our Olympic and Paralympic GB teams in Beijing. Now we can build on the excitement this has created to get even more disabled people actively involved as we build up to London 2012.”

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