Jul 26 2012 By Lizzie Smith
Hurlford strongman ready for his Olympic challenge
WEIGHTLIFTER Peter Kirkbride is going for gold at the Olympics.
The 24-year-old strongman from Hurlford will fulfil his lifelong dream by competing in the Games next Saturday (August 4).
Peter, a member of Kilmarnock Weightlifting Club, will lift in the 94kg class at London’s ExCel Centre.
He travelled down to the capital this week as part of the five-strong GB weightlifting squad. Peter is the only Scottish competitor.
Peter has won every British weightlifting championship in his age and weight category since he was 11.
The former Loudoun Academy pupil lifted more than ever before to win a silver medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India.
He lifted 144kg in the snatch and 189kg in the clean and jerk to give him a combined total of 333kg at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Delhi.
The gold medal looked like his, but Faavae Faauliuli of Samoa, in the last lift of the competition, successfully lifted 192kg to grab gold by a single kilogram.
But Peter feels ready to go one better and win gold in the biggest competition of his life – the Olympics.
Peter, who has been a full-time athlete for four years, said: “It is a great honour to be an Olympic athlete.
“This is exactly the reason why I started in the sport when I was 11 years old and why I dedicate so much time to my training.
“I know this is a big competition and I will be taking on the best in the world. I’m going to do the very best I can to win a medal for Great Britain.”
Peter has given his two free Olympic Games tickets, which he received as a competitor, to his parents Peter and Theresa.
He said: “Mum and dad have sacrificed alot for my career. It’ll be great to have them there on the day.”
Peter’s mentor Charlie Hamilton, head coach of Kilmarnock Weightlifting Club, will also be there.
Charlie, a former Commonwealth Games weightlifter, said: “I’ve been working with Peter since he was 11 years old and I have seen him develop from a young skinny boy to an Olympic athlete.
“His attitude, desire to succeed and determination to the best has seen him become one of the most decorated weightlifters in Scottish history and I really believe there is much more to come from him and more records to break – which are mainly his own.”
Peter also has big support from his girlfriend Connie England, a former weightlifter, and his Kilmarnock clubmates.
Said Peter: “Folk have been asking me for my autograph in the street – I thought they were joking.”
He has also earned the nickname ‘Olympic Pete’.
Peter is the pin-up for East Ayrshire Council’s Talented Athlete Support Programme (TASP) to inspire young home-grown sporting talent.
Adam Strain, youth sports development officer and coordinator for TASP, said: “Peter is a credit to his family and weightlifting club and is a brilliant role model for local athletes, children and young people from across East Ayrshire, particularly those who are also part of the Talented Athlete Support Programme.”
Peter will be keeping his fans updated on life in the Olympic village on his Twitter and Facebook page.
The BBC, via the red button, will show footage of Peter competing in group B of the men’s 94kg event next Saturday.