Worksop powerlifter Matt Merrick is still in “dreamland” after returning home from his first European competition with a silver medal.
The 31-year-old clinched second place at the Global Powerlifting Committee (GPC) European Powerlifting Championships in Hungary - narrowly missing out on gold.
Merrick lifted a new personal best weight to lead the Men’s Open (under 90kg) category over the weekend only for the last competitor to top his weight and take the title.
Yet in the moments which followed it was unsure what the final outcome would be, as the official announcer stated his nearest challenger’s lift was a failed attempt.
Merrick said: “For the briefest of seconds we all thought I’d won it. Then the announcer corrected himself and it turned out he had made the lift.
“It was surreal.
“It was just fantastic to qualify and to get there, never mind getting anywhere near the podium, I didn’t think I would get anywhere near the podium.
“Then to find myself in a gold medal position was overwhelming - I had Team GB team-mates and coaches jumping on me.
“But the Slovakian competitor returned and completed his lift, beating me by 17kg.”
Merrick, a secondary school teacher at Nottinghamshire’s Toot Hill School, in Bingham, lifted 272.5kg - to make him the highest ranked deadlifter in Great Britain.
He said: “It was fun. The competition was an experience and I’m chuffed. I got further than I thought I would - I’m still in dreamland.”
Merrick only took up the sport 13 months ago and qualified for the European competition following his performance at the British championships.
Reflecting on his European adventure, he said: “It’s one of those milestones I think I’ll never forget.
“I don’t think I’ve taken the medal off for more than five minutes since I got back.
And added: “The support has been overwhelming. It’s amazing how many people have got in touch congratulating me and I want to thank them.
“It’s an experience I never thought I’d get.”
Now, having had his first taste of international competition, Merrick has set his sights on winning the World Championships in Slovakia in October.