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Masters Champ Riley Highlights Mental Health Benefits Of Virtual Comps

European Masters Gold Medallist Martyn Riley recently appeared on BBC’s Look North news programme to discuss this week’s Virtual English Championships.

Masters Champ Riley Highlights Mental Health Benefits Of Virtual Comps

Currently national events are unable to take place in-person due to the current Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. To ensure that competitions could continue for those who are able to train at home,  British Weight Lifting have been running a programme of virtual events with the largest yet taking place this week in the form of the Virtual English Championships.

Talking to presenter Tanya Arnold, Riley who is also an IWF Category 2 Referee highlighted the benefits of the new online competition format for people with autism as well as those struggling with mental health during these difficult times.

“Well I am diagnosed autistic and I have always done well in the past, but I struggle,” said Riley.

“I have never been able to lift what I lift in training because I get distracted easily.”

“I struggle with focus and concentrations, but doing it virtually it’s kind of like doing it in training. I don’t want to take a positive in a bad time, but it really has been a positive in a bad time.”

This week’s England Championship is an open event with no qualification totals required.

However, Riley is already in good form having hit the British Senior Benchmark in the BWL Winter Open last December by lifting an impressive effort of 185kg in the Men’s Master’s 61kg class.

“I think weightlifting really does suit with routine as it’s so structured.

“It’s got so many things and also mental health links quite a lot to people with autism and dealing with frustration, anxiety, aggression and all of that stuff in a safe way.

“You can never hurt a bar. You can never hurt the weights. I get frustrated and I take it out on the bar. I throw the weights up in the air, so it really does help autistic people.

“I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch, but because I won the European Championship in 35-39 (age category), I’d like to think I have a very good chance of becoming English Masters champion again.”

Entries are now open for the Virtual England Championship and close 15 February 2021 at 12pm.

The event is eligible for rankings, but not records. The entry fee is £15 and more info can be found here



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