Cyrille Tchatchet has been cleared to compete for Britain at the European Championships in Albania and for England at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham ©Getty Images

The Refugee Olympic Team weightlifter Cyrille Tchatchet has been cleared to compete for Britain at the European Championships in Albania next month and for England at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, scheduled to be held from July 28 to August 8.

It ends a wait of years for Tchatchet, who was promoted as a role model by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), last year.

Although he competed in Tokyo as a member of the Refugee Olympic Team, Tchatchet has not lifted for any nation since 2014, when he was a teenager representing Cameroon.

After finishing fifth in the old 85kg category at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, he stayed in Britain rather than returning to Cameroon, for personal reasons that he has never publicly disclosed.

After a couple of months living on the streets in Glasgow and then in Brighton, on England’s South Coast, Tchatchet was suicidal.

Since then, he has made a success of his life, getting a British passport and a job in the National Health Service (NHS), in which his own personal experiences proved useful.

Tchatchet, 27, has competed in domestic events and as he had made the qualifying standards for Britain’s European Championships team, he was entered before his clearance came through.

But because he has never lifted for England, he must make the qualifying standard at the trials day for English lifters on April 24.

That will be well within his grasp and Tchatchet will be a medal contender for the host nation in Birmingham in the 96kg category should he come through the trials in West London.

Tchatchet won the 96kg at the British Championships in Derby in January, shortly after learning that his passport had been granted.

His total of 341kg was 40kg clear of his nearest rival, the international lifter Edmon Avetisyan, and 9kg short of the 350kg that earned him 10th place in Tokyo, where no male lifters qualified for Britain.

Tchatchet will attempt to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

"This is great news for Cyrille and for us at British Weight Lifting (BWL)," said Ashley Metcalfe, chief executive of the national governing body.

"It means that Cyrille can at last fulfil some of his sporting ambitions after not being allowed to compete on the international stage for years."

"He’s an outstanding young lifter with lots of potential, and now he can showcase his talent.

"He gives that extra bit of quality, depth and experience to our male team - hopefully he can incentivise others and drive them on.

"To be able to train alongside somebody like Cyrille is a big boost.

"Our other members of the team, male and female, have made him feel very welcomed and he’s enjoyed his time with us."

The Cameroon Weightlifting Federation did not sign clearance papers for Tchatchet’s switch, and is believed to have sought a compensation payment.

But Tchatchet competed for the Refugee Olympic Team without any such sign-off or payment and the switch was approved by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Board, which had the final say.

Support from the IOC helped Tchatchet.

"I don’t know if the IOC intervened directly in the process, but they were very much in favour of Cyrille being allowed to change to represent Britain," said Metcalfe, who highlighted the IOC’s support and its initiatives to help refugees when he wrote to the IWF seeking approval for Tchatchet’s change of nationality.

"The refugee agencies tried first to get him refugee status, then a British passport, and this has been going for an eternity.

"But the process with the IWF since Cyrille got his passport (at the start of 2022) has been quite quick compared to the time he has had to wait to get his passport.

"I applaud the IWF for ensuring that Cyrille can lift on the international stage.  

"They deserve credit for making this happen."

The decision was taken at a Board meeting last week at which Sarah Davies, then chair of the IWF Athletes' Commission, spoke in support of Tchatchet.

Although Davies declared an interest and did not vote as she was a potential team-mate of Tchatchet, the result was in his favour.

Davies resigned as IWF Athletes' Commission chair yesterday after a BWL disciplinary decision.

Tchatchet, who has been training in Morocco recently, has been seen by the IOC as an inspirational figure.

That is not surprising given his story, which was told at length last year on the NHS website, which said "he has shown as much strength in physically lifting unimaginable weights as he has done fighting personal mental health battles and supporting others struggling with their mental health".

After leaving the Cameroon team in Glasgow, Tchatchet headed for Brighton and slept rough, struggling to buy food and water.

"I was living under a bridge in a new city in a new country, feeding off biscuits," he said.

"I knew nobody. 

"You just feel ashamed and that you're nothing.

"You feel suicidal all the time because you just think you're useless.

"It got to the point where I thought 'why am I even doing this? Why am I wasting time? Just kill yourself'."

Just as he hit his lowest point, standing on top of a cliff, Tchatchet saw a sign for the helpline run by the Samaritans charity, which strives to help anybody in emotional distress.

"I had some credit in my phone so I called them. 

"They asked me where I am and I think they're the ones who called the police. 

"The good thing is they stopped me."

Tchatchet was taken into police custody, then moved to an immigration removal centre while the process for his asylum status began.

He was housed in Birmingham, and during the two-year wait before he was given "leave to remain" status in Britain. 

However, he continued to have mental health problems.

Tchatchet was on antidepressants and when his doctor advised him to stay busy, he returned to weightlifting.

He trained for his NHS role and became a qualified lead nurse in Harrow, London.

"I wanted to work in the mental health profession after going through what I call scary things," he said last year.

"I was looked after by my doctor and some nurses who showed compassion, care and were very open and listened to me. 

"I wanted to give back some of the support I had received.

"I enjoy engaging with my patients and being that person they can talk to openly without the fear of being judged."

Tchatchet now works for the NHS in the West Midlands, within a few miles of the weightlifting venue for Birmingham 2022.