HE had been away from the sport he loved for more than three decades.
But that little matter of 34 years was no handicap to champion weightlifter Michael Butterworth.
The Almondbury man returned to competitive action in the Masters category and has delighted family and friends by scooping a British title for the first time – at the age of 67.
Former builder and college lecturer Mr Butterworth took the British Masters 77kg title in a contest at Mytholmroyd – ironically beating a former rival from the 1970s in Dave Dargue, of Bradford.
He became outright winner by snatching 66kg, and clean and jerking 81kg.
“We had a really good contest and I was delighted to win,” said Mr Butterworth, now retired.
“I had said I wouldn’t go back to the sport unless I felt able to compete and that was the case.
“I had a few aches and twinges but now I’m looking forward to getting back to training today and on Saturday and looking ahead to the next competition”.
Mr Butterworth first began weightlifting when he was 15, growing up in Wakefield. He trained at Stanley Youth Club and was spotted by Huddersfield weightlifter Peter Kilroy, who took him under his wing.
The pair trained in Garden Street, Lockwood, and Mr Butterworth – also a keen soccer and rugby league player – began entering contests. He competed as a middleweight and lifted all over the UK before calling it a day in 1978.
“I loved the sport but it was hard work.
“We used to train Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings as well as lunchtimes on Tuesdays and Thursdays and it was very strenuous.
“I was also busy at work. I had served an apprenticeship as a builder but then took teaching qualifications at the former Holly Bank Centre and began teaching construction studies.
“I had more than 30 years teaching students at the old Ramsden College in Huddersfield and at Huddersfield Technical College.”
He retired seven years ago and now lives in Almondbury with partner Ann.
He enjoys gardening at home and on his allotment and walking.