Gold for Stephen Handley at the British Weight Lifting and Help for Heroes Para–Bench Open

Gold for Stephen Handley at the British Weight Lifting and Help for Heroes Para–Bench Open

Help for Heroes and British Weight Lifting came together last week to host a unique joint Para Powerlifting Talent Camp Series and competition in Tidworth for wounded, injured and sick military personnel and veterans.

Para Bench Open 6© Ellie Hetebrij 

The camp, which forms part of Help for Heroes Sports Recovery programme, provided the opportunity for Help for Heroes beneficiaries to train alongside the British Weight Lifting team and work alongside some of the country’s best powerlifting coaches, practitioners and athletes, helping them develop their technical and physical abilities in preparation for competitive opportunities in 2015.

As part of the camp, individuals underwent advisory classification for International Paralympic Committee (IPC) competition opportunities.

The camp was open to people of all abilities to provide a grass roots opportunity to get involved.  Sport not only provides physical benefits, but can also contribute immeasurably to an individual’s psychological wellbeing.  

At the end of the week, the camp finished with an Open Competition. 13 athletes competed across three bodyweight categories in last weekend’s event, which was open to all British Weight Lifting members, injured service personnel as well as individuals interested in trying out the sport, with five competitors attempting para-powerlifting for the first time.

Para Bench Open 4© Ellie Hetebrij 

Former Royal Welsh Fusilier,  Stephen Handley, who was identified through the British Weight Lifting and Help for Heroes partnership, took the gold medal with 136.07 points, lifting a personal best of 155kg.

There was close competition for second place with Ross Austen, who was recently discovered through British Weight Lifting’s Pathway2Podium initiative, edging first time para-powerlifter Chris Rix by 112.56 points to 112.08, lifting 115kg and 130kg respectively.

In order to allow athletes with a range of bodyweights and disabilities to compete fairly, placings were calculated with an adjustment for bodyweight, meaning the heaviest weight lifted was not always the winning result.

Commenting on the competition, Ashley Metcalfe, British Weight Lifting CEO, said: “The Para-Bench Open is the first time we have run an event in conjunction with Help for Heroes and it was great to see such tough competition on display. We hope that this competition will become a staple fixture in the domestic calendar in years to come and we look forward to continuing our work with Help for Heroes as we seek to uncover para-powerlifting stars of the future.”

Para Bench Open 1

© Ellie Hetebrij 

The camp and competition formed part of Help for Heroes partnership with the British Paralympic Association to introduce military personnel to Paralympic sport. 

Help for Heroes has been involved with Sports Recovery since 2008, and in the past year alone have offered 300 events across 50 different sports enabling over 2,100 wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans to take part in adaptive sports from grassroots through to performance level. 

To find out more about Help for Heroes’ Sports Recovery Programme, follow @H4H_SR on Twitter.  

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