British Weight Lifting has been given £350,000 in Birmingham 2022-related funding ©Getty Images

British Weight Lifting (BWL) will use funding from the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games to promote its sport in schools and encourage inactive women to take up strength training.

Twenty national governing bodies in Britain are being given £350,000 ($425,000/€410,000) each to help the Commonwealth Games leave a legacy by "levelling up access to sport and physical activity across the country".

BWL aims to boost the Games' legacy with a two-pronged approach that will focus largely on the 11-16 age group and women who do not currently participate in sport.

The plan is to target "inactive and underrepresented groups" and to "tackle the inequalities that exist", said BWL in a statement.

Matthew Curtain, the incoming chief executive and general secretary of BWL who takes up his role on June 23, told insidethegames: "The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will be another defining moment for weightlifting and Para powerlifting’s future in Great Britain.

"This investment will provide additional impetus as we seek to fully capitalise on this major international event happening on home soil.

"We are very grateful for this support and have a clear strategy to ensure it offers maximum value to athletes of today and those of the future."

The £350,000 is provided from the Birmingham 2022 NGB Sport Participation, Innovation and Digital Fund.

The Commonwealth Games will be
The Commonwealth Games will be "another defining moment for weightlifting" in Britain, says Matthew Curtain ©Matthew Curtain

BWL recently launched a four-year "Stronger Together" strategy with two key themes: enabling sporting success, and showcasing strength as a lifestyle.

"We aim to inspire and further enable people to not only improve, but also sustain levels of physical activity," said the BWL statement.

The legacy plan has two key projects.

The first, called Raise The Bar, will target local sports clubs, community organisations and schools "to provide opportunities for 11-16-year-olds from diverse backgrounds to learn about strength training and weightlifting".

Five talent academies will be created in the West Midlands, which has a population of about 3 million, of which more than 1.1 million live in Birmingham.

The second project is called Couch 2 Kilos and will be delivered in partnership with Her Spirit, an organisation that promotes ways of improving women’s health and fitness.

The aim is "to increase the activity levels of women in 20 locations across England, with a focus on inactive people".

BWL will recruit four ethnically diverse female community coaches who will each work in well-being and community centres in Birmingham and the West Midlands for 10 hours a week.

Sam Hayer, who has been involved in weightlifting as an athlete and coach for more than 40 years in the West Midlands, said the money would be a huge boost.

Hayer, who founded and runs the Oldbury Academy, which has produced three Commonwealth Games athletes, said youngsters who dream of competing in the Olympic Games would not normally choose weightlifting as the sport to realise their ambitions because of its low profile.

Weightlifting coach Sam Hayer believes the funding is "great news" for the sport ©Gurinder Hayer
Weightlifting coach Sam Hayer believes the funding is "great news" for the sport ©Gurinder Hayer

"We need to change that," Hayer said.

"Weightlifting is not in the limelight like other sports and this funding can help to change that.

"This extra money is great news and I really hope it will help the clubs, and lead to a follow-up investment in newcomers to the sport.

"There’s not much in place at the moment for recruiting newcomers and taking them to the next step, taking them further into the sport.

"Having competitions is really important, giving kids trophies and medals that mean a lot to them.

"Part of Birmingham winning the bid was all about the legacy and I am hoping that investment into equipment, coaching and development at existing clubs and maybe new ones will help to build the next generation of athletes in our great sport."

The BWL statement said, "The Commonwealth Games will be part of our broader ambitions to be part of the solution in tackling national inactivity and inequality.

"We will use the event to positively promote and influence the market for sport and physical activity, namely weightlifting and para powerlifting in Birmingham and the West Midlands, providing local people with opportunities to participate, volunteer and support."

There are plans to set up a schools version of the Couch 2 Kilos project, which would include a competition format.

Emily Campbell won a silver medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics ©Getty Images
Emily Campbell won a silver medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics ©Getty Images

With both projects, Raise the Bar and Coach 2 Kilos, BWL will seek to "build a network of high-quality clubs and coaches to provide an experience for participants that does not currently exist" in the West Midlands.

BWL also aims to challenge stereotypes that strength training is not safe for young people and females.

Emily Campbell, Britain’s super-heavyweight Olympic silver medallist and double European champion, has been promoting weightlifting in primary schools in the Birmingham area in recent weeks.

Her achievements, and those of the four-time Commonwealth Games champion Precious McKenzie, are being showcased in Precious Emily, a school play.

Ten schools are involved, each adapting their own performance, including songs, from a basic framework provided to them by the experimental theatre company Stan’s Café.

It tells the story of two of Britain’s most successful weightlifters.

McKenzie, 86 last week, was victimised in his native South Africa in the apartheid era and after moving to Britain he won three golds for England in 1966, 1970 and 1974, and one for New Zealand in 1978.

He has lived in New Zealand for many years but he may meet Campbell for the first time this month, as he is staying with relatives in England this summer.