Interview With The Legendary Olympian Gareth ‘Gaz’ Evans

Gareth has spent the best part of his lifting career in the 62 and 69kg body weight category where he has represented and achieved a great deal for both Wales and Great Britain. Gareth was one of three GB male athletes to compete at the London 2012 Olympics totalling a huge 288kg (130kg Snatch and 158 Clean & Jerk) in the 69kg class. He has competed at every level from National to European to Worlds to Olympics. Gareth holds numerous British Records and many British Titles.

How long do you feel it took you to master the Snatch and Clean & Jerk technique? And what can beginners who are learning expect?
To be honest I’m still trying! I’ve been lifting for 18 years now, I started in 1998 and at 30 years old there is still parts of my lifting that I’m not totally happy with. I think it’s important to realise that you can’t ‘master’ everything.

How does an international competition platform compare to a national competition platform? Do you feel more pressure in either one?
I think that depends on the circumstances to be honest, the older I’ve got, and the more competitions I’ve lifted in, has made me realise that just going out and enjoying myself on the platform produces my best results. I like an excuse to celebrate (as many people know) but I think you have to approach competitions no matter if it’s domestic or international with professionalism but still make it fun. I try not to think about the outcome of the competition while I’m lifting. That’s my coaches job, I just lift weights and try to entertain people and enjoy myself.

What advice can you give to beginners who are going to lift on a competition platform for first the time?
Like I said when I answered the last question really, ENJOY IT! Weightlifting is a sport where you don’t get a massive return for the training you put in. Sometimes I have trained for months without competing and when you think of all those hours in the gym to only have 6 lifts on the platform, it isn’t a great return for your time and effort. Sometimes things won’t go your way and you might not get the lift or total that you wants but that’s sport! You learn from it and it ultimately makes you better.​

What were your training programmes/ routines like leading up to the London 2012 Olympics?
HARD! I don’t think a day went past when I wasn’t hurting. That’s another thing with Weightlifting - it hurts! It’s not a pain that makes you not want to do it, it’s a satisfying pain. I remember training in Leeds with Ben Watson and Jack Oliver and squatting every session (8 times a week) on top of the other 3-4 exercises in each session. It was hard but it got me to an Olympic Games so it was definitely worth all the graft!​

How does a normal week of training look for you (out of competition)?
Nowadays I only train 5 times a week, I’m getting older now and my training is much more about quality than quantity. In a strength phase I usually have lots of pulls, powers, squats and complexes (pull, pull, snatch, snatch is one I particularly dislike!), others like (clean, squat, squat, jerk I prefer). As I get closer to a competition I usually only have maybe 2 heavy sessions a week the rest are at about 70-75%.

You’ve been lifting for many years and competed at every level from national to Europeans to Worlds to Olympics, how has British Weight Lifting and international Weightlifting changed over that time?
I've been lifting 18 years. It’s a long time but I’ve had little breaks here and there. British Weightlifting has changed massively. There was no funding when I started lifting, no physio’s, no nutritionist or S&C coaches. Things like that make a huge difference.

International lifting has changed too in the respect that competitions are a lot slicker now even down to junior and youth level. The venues are better and the introduction of people like Under The Bar, All Things Gym and Hookgrip have really helped to show the sport to the rest of the world which is great!

Also the work that WADA has done recently has been massive for international Weightlifting, I understand that many peoples idols/heroes have been banned but it is a big step into protecting the clean athletes in GB and other nations.​

Your top tip to aspiring Lifters?
Find yourself a good coach and listen! Don’t be an internet lifter, it’s hard to watch a video of a Russian and replicate technique. Also find yourself a training partner, training is hard and can get repetitive sometimes, so having someone with you helps! It doesn’t matter if there is a gap in standard or weight being lifted!

ENJOY YOUR LIFTING​!

Thank you very much Gaz!