One Salford sports club has finally returned to competitive sport with the help of video recordings for the British Online Weightlifting Championship – and had a British record holder in their ranks raising the bar.

Barton Athletics Club, founded in 1953 in Eccles, welcomed the return of sport last weekend, making the most of the current situation instead by recording the participant’s lifts on their mobile phones and submitting them.

It’s a step in the right direction for the club, who re-opened in September, as it took four weeks to be up to scratch on the guidelines. They have provided a safe space for 80 members since re-opening, not yet to full capacity of 250, but it helped aid preparations for last Saturday for when the Weightlifting Championships took place.

The return of sport to Barton AC

John Lightfoot, 71, a member of ‘Shacklady’s gym’ since 1955 and now treasurer, is delighted for a form of sport to be back. Despite many big boxing and weightlifting competitions cancelled at the club, this return is a shining light during a dark time event-wise.

“It’s great to get sport back up and going again”, he said.

“It’s great that we’ve been able to do something online for the youngsters which is the first time. When you start doing it all you want is something to go [aim] for.”

One of the club’s under-15’s girls had remarkable success breaking British records at her age for a clean and jerk lift, a snatch and a combined total between the two – she’s a talent the club are very proud to have at their disposal.

Mr Lightfoot added: “Fantastic. She’s breaking British records which is fantastic for her and it’s also fantastic for the club as well. It’s also bringing out that positive again – more women in sport or girls in sport and encourage them.

“[The club is] Outnumbered by girls to boys, which is something we are encouraging anyway – to get more women and girls into sport.

Another member who continued to set the bar high for the competition is youngster Frankie – who won his event on the weekend lifting 100kg. Records and competitions are being achieved left, right and centre at Barton AC and if they continue if this vein, more success should come with it too.


Keeping many generations active

Mr Lightfoot cannot express enough how important it is to hold such events and keep people active – young and old. That is what this club does remarkably with an age range of eight to 92 with the eldest member their from the opening year.

“You’ve got to get people into health and wellbeing. We’ve told people to get involved with exercise for their health and wellbeing and mental state as well. We feel that’s a top priority to keep you going in life.

“The example of that at Barton AC is the older end. The people from the older end have been in the club 50-60 years”, he continued.

“[We’ve got a] 92-year-old been there since first year. He’s a bit frightened to come back into the club but I can understand that. Les whose 89, Les just doesn’t take any notice of Covid-19, all he wants to be is here at the club. He’s been involved with sport since he was a young lad – 15-years-old – and he’s 89. He’s still training youngsters now in weightlifting, he can’t keep away!”, he joked.

Shacklady’s gym in is safe hands

After initially covering the topics I set out, I thanked Mr Lightfoot for his time and laughs he provided to which he added “that’s what we do. You’ve got to keep happy. Just keep going – and this kind of thing it keeps you going. It’s ongoing all the time.

It is ongoing. Barton AC have adapted remarkably to the changes required of them. Ridding the wrestling mats to allow for extra space between machines, bringing in a cycling project – they have a clear plan and it is truly benefitting the people of Salford across many generations.

“It’s non stop, it’s like a full-time job. 300 hours to get the club up and going again. Everyone’s come together to get it back going again.

“That’s what we’re here for – to give. A lot of people here all learn that it’s all about giving, what you can give and being kind to people.”

It is this selfless, caring and positive mentality of the volunteers that will keep this Club moving in the right direction for many years to come – whether that be with the help of technology or not – the people at this Club will just be grateful for a some competitive sport to focus on.

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