A SEASIDE town will today bid farewell to scores of young weightlifters at the climax of a major competition which has put the coastal community on the international sporting map.
Almost 160 competitors from 20 different countries have been in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland, this week for the prestigious European Junior Powerlifting Championships.
It is the first time the flagship event has been held in Britain, and has featured top male and female lifters, aged from 14 to 23, from powerhouse countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Sweden, Norway and Iceland. The championships – which end today with the super-heavyweight competition – were yesterday hailed a major success by the local organisers, the Ashington-based Parkhead and Wansbeck Power Sports Club.
Club officials Fred McKenzie and Stewart McKay persuaded the Great Britain Powerlifting Association to hold the event in Newbiggin sports centre, after it was awarded to the UK two years ago.
This week’s fierce competition has seen three new world and four European records set, with Russia’s 40-strong team of lifters proving to be the dominant force. Yesterday Mr McKay. who is secretary of the Parkhead and Wansbeck Club, said: “The event has gone very successfully and we have had some excellent results and performances.
“The Russians are continuing with their outstanding performances, and they have tended to sweep the board in terms of the best team.
“We have seen some world and European junior records set this week, and we feel the public who have turned up have been surprised by the competitiveness and keenness of the people involved.”
Mr McKenzie, 74, a veteran weightlifter and two-time Paralympics competitor, said: “There has been a good buzz and the event has delivered to a very professional standard, in keeping with the changed image of Newbiggin.
“We really pulled off a coup in bringing this to Newbiggin and the North East, and there are possibilities that we could attract more competitions to the area.”
The competition ends today and tonight individual and team trophies will be presented at a banquet at the Holiday Inn, Seaton Burn.
The European Junior Championships have been going for almost 30 years and were held in Norway last year.