The UK’s oldest competitive weightlifter is still pumping iron – at the age of 87.
Bill Despard started weight training aged 15 years old, and works out seven days a week, for three hours per day.
The great-grandad describes the sport as “my life”, and earned a silver medal in the 81kg category at at the European Masters Weightlifting Championship in Poland.
Bill trains every day at the Kilwinning Olympic Weightlifting Club, in Kilwinning, North Ayrshire, which he has run for more than 20 years.
He was tipped to the gold medal by a Polish OAP the same age as him – but Bill has won medals in the USA, South Africa and Japan.
His dog, Holly, a 17-year-old Staffie, keeps him company in the gym.
Bill said: “I made a wee bit of history for Scotland as the oldest ever weightlifter to compete at a competition.
“I enjoyed it, it was a terrific atmosphere and I was just hoping to get a medal.
“There were more than 1,400 lifters taking part over the week.
“A guy from Poland beat me, he is 87.
“I got a new hip last year which has slowed me down a little, it makes me a bit apprehensive when I’m lifting the heavier weights, but I finished second and got a silver medal.”
He has five competitions to look forward to in 2023.
Bill had his right breast removed when he was 16 due to cancer, before getting back to competing at 18, and said his replacement hip has made him “very cagey” in fear of further injury.
Bill said: “Weightlifting is life.
“It keeps you fit, it keeps your healthy and hopefully I can inspire people to come to the gym.
“It’s not easy there are a lot of lazy people out there, I see them every day, youngsters doing nothing.
“They could be in the gym learning this sport, which is an Olympic sport
“I come in seven days a week.
“We do the snatch, clean and jerk and squats.
“I have been doing this 72 years but my age doesn’t hold me back.
“I am lot weaker now, of course you lose strength as you get older, you lose speed.
“I have never had any weightlifting accidents that have put me out of the game, pulled some muscles but you expect that.
“I was very happy with my trophy, I have never won one before.
“I come to the gym and I train with younger people which makes me feel good.
“I love it, it makes me feel good and I like the challenge.
“You come here, look at the bar and keep going to try and beat it, putting more weight on.
“It gives you a good feeling inside yourself.
“I don’t feel my age, it’s been good for my mental health.
“I had cancer when I was 16 but I am still here and still happy.
“It’s been good to me physically, it’s been great to me.
“I just feel that if I can get kids off the streets and teach them an Olympic sport, and help them get out of difficulties, that would be great.
“We had loads of members but Covid killed us. We’ve got 14 members at the moment.
“I don’t care if they’re 100-years-old, anyone can join in.
“I don’t make any money out of it.
“I’ve been paid once in my life when I was in Japan and I refereed and they gave me 300 dollars. I’ve never made a penny out of it.
“It’s my life, it’s everything I know in life.
“My wife used to come to all of my competitions but all I’ve got now is my wee dog, so I’ve got a bed in the gym for her and it’s beside where I train.
“She just sits and watches me and as soon as she sees me change my shoes she knows it’s time to go up the road.”