His appearance at the Commonwealth Games may have been unexpected but having booked his spot on the Gold Coast, Alex Collier is determined to make his mark.
The 24-year-old weightlifter has worked hard for his opportunity, training between five and six times a week, sometimes twice a day to ensure he delivers when it matters most in Australia.
And the Ashton-under-Lyne native, who competes in the men’s 85kg division on Saturday, wants to use the Gold Coast competition as a springboard for future success as he looks to climb the world rankings.
“I can’t believe that I’m actually at my first Commonwealth Games,” he said from the Team England training camp in Brisbane. “It’s kind of surreal, it’s not really kicked in yet.
“Being one of the young ones, I really want to get the highest place I can to show that it is an up-and-coming sport, and that England are getting better and better every year.
“In the past year, I’ve been getting PBs in every single competition, so I expect the same from this one.
“My best is a 300 total, so a 135 snatch and 165 clean and jerk – anything above that I’ll be extremely happy with.”
Collier’s life at home is a world away from that of sport, as he spends his weeks training and weekends working 12-hour shifts as a security guard at a paper mill.
But the graft is worth it, and he is only grateful that his job and family have been so understanding.
“Everyone at home couldn’t be more supportive,” he said.
“My parents have supported me a lot and my job has supported me a lot, giving me time off for the Commonwealth Games and training camps.
“I’ve got friends who own a gym, so they sponsor me to train for free. And my coach is coming over to Australia to watch me.”
Hopefully, his coach’s long journey will be worth it: if Collier makes it to the podium the new Team England anthem Jerusalem will be played.
It was re-recorded by long jumper Jazmin Sawyers and Britain’s Got Talent winner Tokio Myers, of whom Collier is already a fan.
“I really love his music so I think the anthem is unbelievable,” he said.
“To be on the podium listening to Jerusalem would be one of the proudest moments of my life – it would be emotional hearing that.”
npower is the Official Partner of Team England and is giving our athletes the power of support by recording a brand new version of their anthem, Jerusalem. To listen to the track visit npower.com/teamengland