Tributes have been paid to the Welsh weightlifter, Myrddin John, who has died at the age of 88.

Mr John was born in 1933 in the village of Betws near Rhydaman, the son of a coalminer.

He had always been interested in physical education, and at school developed an affinity for weightlifting, as he described in a 2009 interview with People’s Collection Wales: “I learnt how to do weightlifting on my own from pictures in sports magazines.

"All wrong, I know now, but at the same time I gradually developed and made some homemade weights, and that’s how it all started.

"Then, eventually, after going to the Grammar school, I went to the RAF and that was the first time that I ever saw weightlifting done properly.”

The National Wales: The former Welsh weightlifting champion Myrddin John has died at the age of 88. Photo: Delythm CC BY-SA 4.0The former Welsh weightlifting champion Myrddin John has died at the age of 88. Photo: Delythm CC BY-SA 4.0

After serving in the RAF, he subsequently trained to be a PE teacher and taught in several different schools. Having perfected his weightlifting technique, he won a number of Welsh championships, and eventually got selected to represent Wales at the 1958 Empire and Commonwealth Games, which was held in Cardiff.

From then on, Mr John became an instrumental figure in the sport, both in Wales and internationally. He served as the General Secretary of the Commonwealth Weightlifting Federation from 1983 to 2005, and for many years he was also the Vice President of the International Weightlifting Federation.

Mr John was the General Manager as well as the Chef de Mission for the overall Team Wales at several Commonwealth Games.

He was honoured with membership of the Gorsedd of the Bards for his services to Welsh sport. 

In his book,  The Phenomenon of Welshness II:or "Is Wales too Poor to be Independent?", Sion Jobbins asserted that a street in Rhydaman should be named after Myrddin John to recognise his efforts in trying to secure international status for the Welsh weightlifting team outside of the Commonwealth Games. 

 

 

On Instagram, the sport's governing body,  Weightlifting Wales, paid tribute to Mr John: 

"It is with great sorrow to hear the passing of Myrddin John. On behalf of Weightlifting Wales, we express our heartfelt condolences to Myrddin’s family. Myrddin was at the heart of Welsh Weightlifting for many decades. He represented Wales at the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff. With a strong passion for Weightlifitng, Myrddin served as the General Secretary of the Commonwealth Weightlifitng Federation from 1983 to 2005. Unmatched as a sports administrator, organising international competitions including the Sliver Dragon and IWF events. Also, an International Technical Official and for many years the Vice President of the International Weightlifting Federation. Myrddin served Welsh Weightlifitng as General Secretary, as a Coach and as a Manager; And Team Wales as General Team Manager and Chef de Mission at several Commonwealth Games. We thank Myrddin for all he did for our sport of Weightlifting over the many decades."

 

Helen Phillips, Chair of Team Wales at the Commonwealth Games, said on Twitter: "It is with great sadness to hear of Myrddin John’s passing. He has been a significant & respected influence in Welsh sport over the years. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family at this difficult time."

If you value The National's journalism, help grow our team of reporters by becoming a subscriber.