Welsh weightlifters have started their countdown to the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham – in a virtual world.
The likes of 2018 champ Gareth Evans, Hannah Powell and Catrin Jones have been starved of competition due to COVID-19 restrictions.
But Weightlifting Wales has joined forces with British Weightlifting to stage a virtual Open competition to give lifters the chance to post a weight.
The Virtual Welsh Open was due to run until November 8 but has now been extended to November 30 due to the last Welsh Government guidelines.
“You have your bodyweight checked, you put in your total and send the video off and the referee can look at it,” said National Coach Ray Williams.
“It all goes on the BWL website so it gets recognised as a competition.
“For the likes of Hannah it will be her first competition on her journey to Birmingham.
“It will be the first rung of her ladder in the six events that will lead hopefully to a podium in Birmingham.
“She has got a chance as has Catrin and Gareth, if I can get him back to the type of mindset he was in in 2018.
“It’s really difficult once you win the one and it’s taken 19 years to get there, it’s difficult to dig down and search your soul to go through that training for another two years.”
Totals posted by weightlifters will be eligible for qualification to future national competitions
The results from the Virtual Welsh Open will also be included in the national ranking lists
The top three ranked lifters in Senior, Masters and Youth age groups will also receive medals.
With no weightlifting events looking likely to be staged until next Spring at the earliest lifts registered in a virtual event could be vital.
“How they are going to make the qualification for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games is beyond me,” added Williams.
“Face-to-face sport is probably not going to happen before April next year at the earliest I’m surmising.
“It’s a precarious predicament.
“They haven’t put out any list of qualification events as nobody knows when weightlifting will restart.
“It could go to a virtual qualification which would be a bit crazy. It is a case of weight and see for events.
“Everybody is as keen to get back on the platform as they are keen to get back on the rugby pitch or hit a table tennis ball.
“I’ve never seen a crazier time of life than what we are living through now and I served in the army for 24 years.”
Full details of the Virtual Wales Open, which is also open to non-members, can be found on the Welsh Weightlifting website.