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Gary Rothwell brought home two gold medals for GB at the IGSF World Kettlebell Championships in Turin, Italy this weekend.
The 40-year-old Rochdale ex-warrant officer with over 24 years of army service to his name, who runs the Forever-Strong Fitness & Performance Gym in Moss Mill, was victorious in both the 85kg and veteran (over 40) events.
Kettlebell requires men to lift two 24kg kettlebells above their heads as many times as possible in 10 minutes without putting the bells down.
Rothwell, who only took up kettlebell in March 2015, at the age of 38, said: “I had previously lifted weights and liked to keep myself fit. I retired from any form of physical sports in 2008 as I kept getting injured.
“Kettlebell Sport seemed like a good way to compete at a sport that had quite a low rate of injuries. It was also a fabulous way to keep fit.”
Despite juggling Army duties and his studies of strength and conditioning at the University of Central Lancashire, Rothwell still found time to train where he could: “When I was in the Army, I was lucky enough that a kettlebell sport club and coach was available in my stationed town of Nottingham. I went there three times a week after work.
“Due to travelling around a lot I bought a full set of competition kettlebells for around £1,000 so I could take them with me.
“This helped with studying as I had to travel to Preston at weekends, with my degree being part time. I took the kettlebells with me and trained in the car park at lunch times.”
Rothwell, who graduated from UCLan with a first class honours degree last year, says he owes a great deal of his success to his coach, and his wife: “He wrote my programmes, critiqued my technique and provided the support and guidance I needed to accelerate my progress. He also gave me a kick up the backside when my motivation wasn’t always there.
“Training required a lot of time and effort but I managed this by simply working until late at night on my degree and having a very understanding and patient wife.”
In the run-up to the championships, Rothwell had to lose half a stone to compete in the 85kg category for which he had qualified.
“It wasn’t easy but my gym members helped me stay motivated and provided me with inspiration through their own efforts.”
Relishing in his success, he went onto add: “Becoming a world champion felt amazing. I never dreamed of achieving such a result; I initially only took up the sport to have some fun, meet a few new people along the way, keep fit into my 40s and attend a few competitions here and there.
“Representing town and country at any level is an honour and a privilege, but to do it on the world stage is amazing, and to actually win is surreal.
“It’s something I will cherish, although I intend to give retaining my title a good shot next year in Athens.”