‘I hope I can act as an inspiration’

STANDING five-feet tall and weighing just eight stone she may not be the archetypal weightlifter – but try telling that to Claire Bailey.

The 46-year-old shop assistant from Parsons Heath, in Colchester has just broken a new British record, lifting almost her own body weight at the British Drug-Free All-England Championships, in Bournemouth.

More remarkable is the fact that Claire only returned to the sport recently following a traumatic period in her life which saw her lose her mother Wyn and undergo Carpal Tunnel surgery in both wrists.

“I competed several years ago and ended up doing the world bench press event, although I didn’t place, some of the women looked like men!” said Claire who lifted 47.5kg, despite weighing just 52.5kg.

“I took part in a couple of overseas and British championships but then it fizzled out and my mum was taken ill.

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“When I lost my mum I found that she had collected all my newspaper clippings from when I was competing and that gave me something to focus on. I wanted to do it for my mum.

“But then I had to undergo surgery and I never thought I would be able to lift again but I returned to Hamilton’s Gym in Colchester and it went from there.”

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Under the guidance of coach, Cliff Haynes – a former world champion – Claire got back into the swing of things and that culminated with her success on the South Coast, her first appearance back in the competitive arena.

“I was totally surprised by my achievement and, at my age and in the middle of the menopause, I hope I can act as an inspiration,” said Claire.

“I have done competitions before where the three referees fail to agree on your lift so to be given three white lights in both my lifts was fantastic.

“The British Championships are next February and then hopefully the Europeans so I will just keep on going but I could not have done it without the support of Cliff and my friends at the gym.”

Also competing at Bournemouth: Lee Meachan (set a new British Bench record); Mick Amey (new British Powerlifting record); Tom Hudson (junior – new personal best); Alex Leader (new personal best – deadlift).


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