AN ALFRETON coach is helping a Singapore woman make history at the Commonwealth Games when she becomes the first ever female weightlifter from her country to compete in a major athletics event.
Cyril Martin began coaching 22-year-old Helena Wong for free in March after he spotted her at the English Weightlifting Championships.
But incredibly Helena, who is a second-year Sport and Exercise student at Loughborough University, has only been involved in the sport for 15 months. Cyril (70), a performance manager with the British Weightlifting Association, said: "She was all on her own and I thought 'She must be dedicated!' I have had to change her technique and get her training properly. Helena is certainly a talent and I'm expecting her to do well."
Helena, who trains five or six times a week at the Atlas Workout Warehouse on Salcombe Road, for two to three hours at a time, started off coaching herself from the internet and books. She said: "Having this opportunity to learn from Cyril has helped me improve tremendously. I have absolute admiration and respect for him, his passion for weightlifting is simply infectious and I have grown to love this sport."
Despite the fact she only weighs 53kg herself, she can now lift 146kg in competition. She said: "My current goal is to achieve my personal best in Delhi and for the longer term I aim to qualify for the Olympics."
Helena is Singapore's only weightlifter for the Commonwealth Games and she will become the first Singapore woman to compete in a major Games. The 19th Commonwealth Games in New Delhi run from October 3 to 14. Chris Freebury (21), from Allestree, who also trains in Alfreton, is set to represent England too. He is one of ten English weightlifters competing and will be accompanied by trainer Dave Sawyer.