Women who are muscling in on weightlifting at Sportesse in Chorley

Krystal Cassidy at Sportesse PT in Chorley
Krystal Cassidy at Sportesse PT in Chorley

If there is any heavy lifting that is needed, these girls lead the way.

Challenging the conception that weightlifting is a ‘man’s game,’ Melanie Chlond and Nadine Merrick have been highly successful in national competitions.

Jenny Bell and Nadine Merrick at Sportesse PT in Chorley

Jenny Bell and Nadine Merrick at Sportesse PT in Chorley

They train at Sportesse PT Lifters Olympic Weightlifting Club, in Chorley, which was formed in 2016.

Melanie, of Chorley, is the current BWL Northern Champion for her weight and age category, after she achieved gold.

The 26-year-old says: “I’ve done a few competitions so far competing in the under 90kg category. The last one I did was the Northern Championships which I got gold in. That was quite stressful because I was close to failing all of my first lifts but fortunately I just about managed to pull myself together.

“It’s always a bit of mixed emotion competing. Quite often excitement, nerves and tiredness just before lifting. Once you get up on the platform though you get a massive rush and when it’s all over you get such a buzz especially if you win. I’ll be competing again soon and maybe do a couple others this year. I’m hoping to be doing the English championships next year.”

Melanie Chlond (forefront) at Sportesse PT in Chorley

Melanie Chlond (forefront) at Sportesse PT in Chorley

For Melanie, who is a trained photographer, competitive sports is a natural fit, as her parents were active in the powerlifting field.

She adds: “I had been going to the gym for a few years and got bored of the usual training so I decided to choose some sort of strength sport to compete in.

“I originally wanted to do powerlifting because that’s what both my parents used to compete in.

“I dabbled with that for a bit but realised it wasn’t for me. I think it was my sister who suggested the idea of Olympic weightlifting. After looking at some videos of the top lifters I thought that’s exactly what I want to do. I looked into local weightlifting clubs and fortunately Sportesse is very close to where I live. I booked in for a session with performance manager Dave Bell to try it out and I’ve been obsessed ever since.

Nadine Merrick at Sportesse PT in Chorley

Nadine Merrick at Sportesse PT in Chorley

“I enjoy how challenging it is. It’s not just how strong you are you’ve also got to be fast, flexible and have a good technique. It’s incredibly frustrating at times because you feel like you’re getting nowhere but when you finally hit a new personal best it’s so satisfying because you know you had to work so hard for it.

“I’m always wanting to get stronger. Before I started receiving proper coaching I thought I was at my peak but I’ve improved so much and hopefully there’s still more to come.

“I’ve made some good friends from the club as well. It’s always a nice, welcoming atmosphere at Sportesse. I try to get my female friends to come along because they often feel self conscious about stepping into a gym but everyone is very friendly and encouraging. I’m still yet to convince any of them. I’ll keep trying though.

“I train about five or six days a week. Four times I’ll be at the weightlifting club and then I’ll do some regular training whenever I can fit it in.”

Jenny Bell, with Sportesse performance manager Dave Bell in the background

Jenny Bell, with Sportesse performance manager Dave Bell in the background

Nadine Merrick, who transferred from athletics to weightlifting two years ago, has qualified for the European Women’s Masters competition to be held in Sweden in later this month.

The 45-year-old is currently the British Master Champion for her age and weight group (75kg), as well as the Northern Masters Champion.

She says: “I have been weightlifting for just over two years. I was already training at Sportesse, but not weightlifting. I attended a seminar which was hosted by Sonny Webster, who qualified for the Rio Olympics 2016 and I was hooked from then. It is the most difficult and technical sport that I have ever done and is often a mental challenge as well as a physical one. It is basically you against the bar.

“Weightlifting is always a challenge, even if you know you can lift the weight the bar doesn’t always do what you want it to. Winning the gold medal is always nice as is hitting a personal best.

“I am currently training four times a week, two of which are with the weightlifting club. The gym members and the weightlifting club members are all amazing, friendly and fully supportive of each other. It’s a great place to train.”

Lead coach Dave Bell, who has more than 20 years Olympic Weightlifting coaching experience, has developed some successful lifters, including the female GB lifter in the Olympics in Rio last year Rebekah Tiler.

Nicola Cunningham at Sportesse PT in Chorley

Nicola Cunningham at Sportesse PT in Chorley

He says: “Sportesse PT lifters is a new club with nine members. Within the club we have three women weightlifters. Both Nadine and Melanie actively compete in competitions whilst Krystal is enjoying the technique development and will be ready to compete very soon. We also have Archie Braysford, who is the BWL Northern U23 Champion for his weight and age category. He is just 18 and has only been lifting for nine months. As a members gym, we specialise in strength and conditioning training - not bodybuilding or body image training. We cater for sports performers and games players from any sport at any level. We work with premier league footballers to amateur enthusiasts, enabling them to be the best that they can be whatever their level.”