COMMONWEALTH GAMES FEATURE- Craig Pilling and Louisa Porogovska
AS we stand in the middle of the Wigan Road, and hundreds of passers-by want to know what is going on, you can see Craig Pilling is proud of his roots – as jokes about being Bolton Welsh.
The 27-year-old wrestler may not be a household name in terms of being a Jason Kenny or Amir Khan but in his sport he is a top amateur after being crowned British senior champion earlier this year.
He has come a long way since his mum took him to Bolton Olympic Wrestling Club as a teenager and has never looked back.
The ex-Sharples pupil is excited about representing his beloved Wales at the Commonwealth Games and hopes to help put Bolton and the club back on the map.
He said: “Bolton Olympic Wrestling Club have not had a Commonwealth Games winner in a while.
“I am excited about the event and hope to get a medal.
“I love being at the club. I started when I was 13 and they gave me a chance to learn the sport.
“When I was 14 in 2001 I was British junior champion and have won a number of titles in that time, but the Commonwealths is the one I am missing.
“I owe the club a lot as they have coached me well and got me to where I am today.”
Pilling is not the only person from the club with a call-up to the Games, as Louisa Porogovska is donning the red and white of England in the competition.
Pilling admits it will be good to have her there too.
He said: “It would be great if Louisa and I can bring back medals.
“On the wall at the gym, there used to be a list of names of people who won at the Commonwealth Games and it has been taken down.
“Hopefully we can be adding our names to that in the summer.”
Porogovska, pictured below, is currently clocking up the air miles by attending a series of camps in the Ukraine with the national team and last week was in Austria before jetting off to Madrid for a final competition and camp.
She was also full of praise for the club for their help.
She said: “I’m very grateful for all the help I’ve had from Bolton Wrestling Club as I would not have been able to return to the sport after giving birth to my son without their help and support.
“It is great to have the support of a good club behind you and knowledgeable coaches who you can go back to for advice.”
Lee Meadows, coach at Bolton Olympic Wrestling Club said: “We are extremely proud of Louisa and Craig’s achievements.
“I think they have both represented the club well and they are great role models for the young people coming through.
“We are so proud of what they have managed to do and hope they can continue.”