Paralympic powerlifter visits London Colney

Chris Rattenbury hopes to qualify for 2012 Paralympic Games

A POWERLIFTER who hopes to qualify for the 2012 Paralympic Games has visited London Colney to discuss his volunteer work as an ambassador for WheelPower, the national charity for wheelchair sport.

Chris Rattenbury, who has lifted 170kg in competition and whose career highlight was powerlifting 165kg at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, visited London Colney Adventure World earlier this month.

He gave a presentation to the Harpenden and District Guild, discussing WheelPower, the nominated charity of Leisure Connection which runs the district council’s sport and leisure facilities, and Paralympic sports.

The former wheelchair racer told the Herts Advertiser: “I started powerlifting in 1997. I found it wasn’t a typical sport, and I wanted to try something different from the norm. Basketball is my first love, but I wasn’t good enough to compete at a high level.”

After discovering a natural ability to excel at powerlifting, Chris competed in his first international event in 1997, which he found daunting. But he went on to compete in European and world championships, world wheelchair games, before participating in last year’s Commonwealth Games. Powerlifting was one of 15 para-sports medal events at the Games.

The 32 year old now has two new challenges to concentrate on – to qualify for next year’s Paralympic Games, from August 29 to September 9, and to hand cycle from John O’Groats to Land’s End on behalf of WheelPower.

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Chris said: “It is hard to say whether I’ll be competing in the Paralympics. You just have to see how it goes; qualification is very tough. It would be nice as every athlete aspires to be in the Paralympics, especially in my home country.”

Paralympic powerlifting is a bench-press competition, to test upper body strength.

Describing competing in the Commonwealth Games as an, “amazing experience”, Chris added: “It was really special for me, because I got to represent England, and there is no greater experience than representing your own country.”

Chris is a volunteer for WheelPower, visiting places such as Adventure World to talk about the charity which helps people transform their lives through sport including those who have been disabled through injury or born with a disability.

The organisation is currently trying to raise �6 million to provide more than 2,000 disabled people with a new sports wheelchair, training and coaching, so they can participate in sport.