Forty years after he represented Ireland at the 1972 Munich Games, former international weightlifter Frank Rothwell has been chosen to carry the Olympic torch in the build-up to the 2012 Games in London.
Frank, originally from Clonmel, has lived in Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire for more than 50 years. He was delighted when he discovered last week that he has been selected as one of the 8,000 torch bearers to carry the flame on its 70-day journey around the United Kingdom. The torch will also be brought to Dublin.
He says it’s a great honour to be chosen, 40 years after competing in the Olympics, and he’s really looking forward to the London Games.
He was nominated as a torch bearer by Michael Snee, chairman of the Halifax and District Irish Society after the Federation of Irish Societies contacted their members inviting nominations. Mr. Snee said that Frank had done a lot of work in the community, and in particular for young people, by introducing them to weightlifting.
Frank, who’s 75, represented his country in international competition from 1963 until his retirement nine years later. The highlight of his career came in 1972 when he competed at the Olympics in Munich. Four years previously he missed out on the Mexico City Games when he was just 22 pounds short of the required weight when winning the Irish championship.
He won All-Ireland Senior Weightlifting titles at several weights including middleweight, light heavy and mid heavy. He set the grand total of 43 Irish Senior records and also won 12 British divisional titles in the course of his career.
Before competing at the Munich Olympics he became the only Irish weightlifter to lift a total of 1,000 pounds, a feat that he managed at an exhibition in the Collins Hall in his home town of Clonmel during a visit on holidays.
He had started lifting weights when he was 15 and as well as the Olympics competed in British, European and World Championships. A true amateur, he worked in an engineering factory before coming home to lift weights and train in his kitchen each evening.
He won Cidona Awards for weightlifting and 1964, ‘65, ‘67 and ‘70, and in 2007 received the Knocknagow Award as the Sportsperson of the Past from the Tipperary United Sports Panel.
Frank set up a weightlifting club at Mytholmroyd Community Centre in Yorkshire, which is now the centre of all northern weightlifting. He’s still heavily involved in local weightlifting and is helping the British Weightlifting Association with their centenary year celebrations.
He also runs a YouTube channel, with more than 1,000 subscribers, and a website promoting weightlifting at http://my-web.tiscali.co.uk/frankweights.