Liddle’s Big Lift After Joining TASS

TASS rookie Olly Liddle is targeting a big future after bagging bronze at the World Para Powerlifting Championships.

The Whitley-Bay based teenager had more than Georgia on his mind as he headed to Eastern Europe to compete in his first major global event.

And Liddle made a big impression on the Tbilisi stage as he took third place behind Russia’s Islam Abdulkadirov and Egypt’s Islam Mohamed in the men’s up to 72kg class.

“Because I’m quite new to competing I didn’t know what to expect,” said the 16-year-old student at Tynecoast College in North Tyneside.

“I just decided to do what I was told by my coach and see what happened.

“I should have had three lifts but because of the way the competition was run I only managed one — I just had no idea how strict the officials would be.

“But that one was good enough for bronze and in the end I was pretty chuffed.

“The Russian lad looked a little bit older than me and seemed to know his way around a major championship better than me.

“It’s all part of the learning process.

“I went over there with an open mind and I learnt a lot. It was my first overseas competition and it just happened to be the World Championships!

“But I’ve always taken every moment as it comes and that won’t change.”

Liddle was forced to reassess his sporting ambitions when, as a 13-year-old, he was diagnosed with cancer and had his leg amputated.

That meant a premature end to his love affair with rugby union and suddenly he needed to look elsewhere to satisfy an appetite for competition.

“I was never looking to become a lifter after my operation,” he added. “I’d played rugby since I was very, very young and hadn’t considered anything else.

“Because of my mechanical leg I couldn’t do much more than walk so when I got back into the gym all of my focus was on my upper body.

“I discovered that I was pretty strong on the bench and my coach got in touch with the British Paralympic coach.

“I wasn’t really looking to do lifting at a high level — I just fell into it. But I’m loving every minute.”

Olly was welcomed on board by TASS as a supported athlete earlier this year and was inspired by the virtual Rookie Week addresses from fellow students, practitioners and TASS alumni.

Three months down the line and he loves his time working with strength and conditioning coach Joel Brannigan at Northumbria University’s TASS hub in Newcastle.

Olly added: “Everything about being a TASS athlete is great.

“I’ve got access to so many fantastic facilities at Northumbria and I try to make the most of my opportunity.

“I’m only 16 and it’s mad to think that I’ve got a whole team behind me supporting me every step of the way.

“As a TASS athlete I’ve got the lot when it comes to support: S&C, nutrition, physio, lifestyle coaching and so on.

“What other 16-year-old at the start of his career could say that?

“There’s no point wasting that support and it’s such a great situation to be in.”

Olly combines his para lifting schedule with studies at Tynecoast where he’s midway through a Level One course in electrical installation.

Tynecoast is a TASS Dual Career Accredited Site (DCAS) with a focus on supporting and developing elite student athletes.

“I didn’t think I was cut out for sixth form but my dad suggested I learned a trade,” added Olly.

“As an athlete you never know what might happen and it’s something useful to fall back on.

“I’m loving the course at Tynecoast and I want to use it as a springboard for studying engineering in my second year.

“I’m very interested in renewable energy and wind turbines and I know the North East sits at the heart of what is a fast-growing renewables industry.”

At just 16 there’s no need for Olly to look beyond the next 12 months but the focused Geordie is just getting started.

“Powerlifting has taken me where I want to go so far in terms of opening my eyes to what elite sport is all about,” he added.

“But my aspiration has always been to get into athletics and to do a triathlon.

“Now I’ve got my blade and I’ve proved that I can compete on the international stage different doors are starting to open.

“Right now I have certain goals where powerlifting is concerned and I’m very grateful for the opportunities it’s given me.”