Tributes flood in following death of weightlifting legend

Alan Fairclough
Alan Fairclough
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ONE of the world’s most respected weightlifting coaches has died.

Alan Fairclough had run the Adlington Barbell Club since 1957 along with his brothers Gerry and Frank and travelled around the globe with their members to compete in international competitions.

The 77-year-old from Chorley suffered a stroke at the club on March 11 and he struggled to make a full recovery before passing away eight days later.

Brindle-based power-lifting champion Fred Smith, who worked with Alan for more than 60 years, paid tribute to his former coach.

He said: “I first met him in March 1960 and he was
a well-established weightlifter at that time.

“He was preparing for his first international for England against Sweden.

“He went on to represent Great Britain on several occasions.

“Alan broke the British record for lifting 371lb over his head and he was the first person born in Britain to lift that weight.

“At that stage he had a competitor who was Louie Martins.

He was a two-time world champion and Alan would have won even more competitions if it was not for him.”

Alan narrowly missed out on selection for the Olympic Games in Mexico in 1968.

Fred said: “He trained with the rest of the team on a camp in the Pyrenees to get ready for the competition.

“Unfortunately, he did not make the selection as George Munro was picked instead.

“Ironically, on the same day as the Olympic competition he managed to lift more than the Great Britain competitors managed.”

He did, however, appear on TV in a live transmission in 1964 from an event in Bulgaria.

Fred added: “He was my coach and I remember travelling to the European Championships in Czechoslovakia and I was chatting to one of the Finnish competitors.

“He asked where I was from and when I told him he said that he had heard about Alan.

“It was funny because I was able to introduce him.

“But apart from that, he coached the World’s Strongest Man Mark Felix at the club and got him working on his overhead lifting.

“There are three types of weight-lifting – body building, powerlifting and Olympic lifting – and Alan had all kinds of people competing at international events.”

Alan leaves behind son, John, who also competed in the sport.

His funeral will be held on Thursday at Adlington St Paul’s Church at 3.30pm.

Alan worked at Openshaws Painters and Decorators in Adlington before moving on to Leyland Motors, where he worked for 20 years.

Fred added: “When he was training for the Olympics he was the only athlete that did not get full pay for being involved.

“Leyland Motors allowed him the time off but he lost money going to compete.”

Fred added that the club would have many happy memories to recall about Alan.

He said: “One lifter contacted us because they knew we had two referees at the gym. He wanted a record and he managed to achieve it.

“However, when the guy left, Alan was able to lift the same weight without really trying.”