A GROUP of young weightlifters are following in the footsteps of Olympic and Commonwealth Games champions.

Before the Olympic Games in London in 2012, some of the world's strongest men and women travelled to the city to find out where they were to compete.

For weightlifters, that meant many of them testing an oak platform capable of coping with their punishing sport.

It was passed to Glasgow for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The platform has now been passed on to the Gladiator Weightlifting Club, which was set up in Easterhouse 30 years ago.

And club founder Alex Richardson hopes it will inspire the next generation of Olympic and Commonwealth stars.

The Gladiator club, which previously won an Evening Times Community Champion Team award, has 60 competitive weightlifters, with the youngest aged nine and the oldest in his 40s.

Over the years, it has recorded remarkable successes - including 91 gold medals across six different age groups at Scottish, British and international level - and has its own magnificent seven of four boys and three girls.

They picked up the nickname after they all became British champions in two different age groups.

The elite squad is made up of Mr Richardson's sons Daniel, 13, and Alex, 12, Charley Craig and Holly Anderson, both 14, Jason Epton, Emily McKibbin and Dominic Blaylock, all 13.

The youngsters are great ambassadors for the Evening Times' new Active 2014 campaign, which aims to improve the health of Glaswegians in the year of the Commonwealth Games.

As well as training Commonwealth and Olympic stars of the future, the club runs a weightlifting development programme for more than 200 local children. The club's new platform is an essential tool for athletes in advance of competitions.

Both Bart Bonk, from Poland, and Christine Girard, from Canada, competed on the platform before going on to win Olympic bronze medals.

The stage testing for Glasgow 2014 saw Team Scotland athletes Peter Kirkbride, who won silver at the 2010 Games in Delhi, dump heavy weights directly on and off the platform and stage to successfully show it could take the additional load.

At the weekend, the oak platform took centre stage as the Gladiator club hosted the Scottish Development Cup and Scottish Schools Championships.

Mr Richardson, a former British Weightlifting Association senior coach, said: "We are incredibly proud to take possession of the platform from Glasgow 2014 following its successful testing at the Clyde Auditorium and the London Olympic event.

"Some of the biggest names in the sport worldwide have lifted on this exact type of platform and what better way to inspire the next generation of weightlifters in Glasgow than to have them following in the footsteps of their idols.

"We look forward to merging our 30-year history of providing qualifiers for past Commonwealth Games in 1994 and 98 with that of the platform and this donation by Glasgow 2014 is a strong example of what the city's Games legacy is all about."

The city council's Games spokesman, Archie Graham, said he was delighted the Gladiators' Club would benefit from the weightlifting platform.

He added: "I am sure it will help to develop and inspire everyone at the club"

Glasgow 2014 chief executive David Grevemberg said the success of the city's Games would not just be measured in medals.

He said: "The weightlifting competition at Glasgow 2014 will feature the true strongmen and women of the Commonwealth, but the sport's disciplines of strength, determination and self-motivation are ones we can all aspire to.

"I am sure the donation of this platform by Glasgow 2014 to a great community club in the city will help inspire the next generation to achieve great things in sport and throughout their lives."

vivienne.nicoll@ eveningtimes.co.uk