Andy started his lifting career at the age of 15 and competed on an international platform a year later in the World Junior Championships. He took his first international medal, a Bronze at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland, New Zealand in the 82.5kg bodyweight class with a 317kg total. By the time the next Commonwealth Games rolled around, Andy totalled a colossal 347kg in the same 82.5kg bodyweight class taking Gold overall. Andy is an Olympian competing in the 1992 Olympic Games along with several world championships. He opened Europa Weightlifting Club in 2000, the club that is home to Jack Oliver and Zoe Smith, London 2012 Olympians.
For beginners looking to get into lifting, what advice would you give them?
Don’t rush, you’ve got to learn how to train, and learn how to actually do the lifts to a good standard. Ideally you’ve got to set aside months to master the movements. Put in the time and give it the respect it deserves.
A 100kg Clean and Jerk takes time, you’ve got to get the technique solid then 110, 120, 140kg will come along easier.
What would you say are the top 3 factors that make a successful lifter?
1) Mindset - you have to want to do it. Weightlifting is very personal, it’s not like a team sport where there are other players, you have to get the best out of yourself, which means self motivation.
2) Always got to try hard!
3) Lastly ability, not essential but does help if you are naturally talented, flexible in the right areas and stocky.
When recruiting new members, what attributes do you look out for?
As we are a small club we don’t have the luxury to do large selection days or any particular talent identification. We are right next to a gymnastics facility and their coach often keeps an eye out for Gymnasts they think would make great Weightlifters (the likes of Jack and Zoe who were former Gymnasts) but at the end of the day it comes down to “do they want to do it”. If they do then, they will be good lifters if not, they’ll give up, simple as that.
What do you think makes a successful club? And therefore successful lifters?
Enthusiasm - don’t underestimate it. It’s not down to programs, science or having the best technique, yes they all help but it’s mainly down the enthusiasm, do the lifters enjoy training because if they don’t they won’t work as hard and will likely give up. Jack and Zoe could be good lifters anywhere but if they didn’t enjoy a particular gym they would give up. It takes 8-10 years to be best you can in Lifting so it’s something you most definitely must enjoy!
It doesn’t matter what you do, just train hard!
From Andy and everyone at Europa Weightlifting Club: “We are truly upset about Jack’s elbow and wish him a speedy recovery after his surgery and success in the 2018 Commonwealth Games”.