An Interview with Dual Olympian Damon Kelly

We are very fortunate at Cougars Weightlifting Club to have two very experienced Athletes in Damon Kelly and  Deb Acason.
here is  Damo’s Interview


Can you give a brief summary of your achievements in the sport?

I have competed at two Olympic games and two Commonwealth Games winning silver and gold medals and setting two Commonwealth Games Records in the process. I have also competed a whole host of Oceania (Senior and Junior), World (Senior and Junior) and University Championships.


How and why did you get involved and what kept you lifting in the beginning?

I began weightlifting at St Laurence’s College when I was in year 10 back in 1998. I was lucky enough that Mike Power, a former weightlifters himself and father of a student, started up a weightlifting club at the school. At that time a few friends and myself were just starting to dabble in weights and the gym and we decided to give weightlifting a go since we were going to the gym anyway. From there I started training and learning the sport. After a while Mike encouraged me to go and train at Cougars Weightlifting Club and the rest is history. From the start I enjoyed the sport and this is what really kept me going. I thought it was great travelling interstate to compete at U/16 & U/18 National Championships. It was competing at these competitions and watching the senior championships that inspired me to keep going. In the beginning I didn’t think about going to the Olympics or Commonwealth Games, I just enjoyed the sport for what it was.


What do you have in your training bag and what personal training gear do you use and why?

I have my weightlifting shoes, socks, lifting straps, strapping tape, knee sleeves, belt, wrist bandages, stretching bands, tubing, various triggering implements and a lot of old ASADA booklets. I use strapping tape for my thumbs and ring fingers every training session I have snatch or clean and jerk just because I’m soft and it hurts my hands. I have Rehband knee sleeves, the original blue ones; I started using them in 2006 and found them to be the best. They don’t offer support but just keep the knees nice and warm which makes squatting that little bit nicer. This year I have just started using boxing hand wraps for my wrist bandages. Previously I have used the stiff wrist supports with the Velcro but the latest brand I used Velcro kept failing so I looked for an alternative. So far I have found the boxing hand wraps to work well and they are something you can leave on the whole time. I have Nike weightlifting shoes. I tried them around 2008/2009 and liked them, simple as that. As long as your weightlifting shoe has a solid heel then it should do the job. My belt is a leather powerlifting belt I have had since 2006. It was the only belt I could find that fit me after mine broke a week out from the Commonwealth Games. It is a bit uncomfortable in the start position for clean and jerks but I have become use to it and now it would feel funny using any other belt. I use Ironmind lifting straps as I have found them to be the strongest. As long as you don’t lend your straps to Rob Galsworthy they last a long time.


When warming up for a big competition what goes through your head?

Not much to be honest which is probably easy to say after 16 years of weightlifting. I can’t remember what it was like when I first started competing but I have always enjoyed competitions. If you enjoy competing then it makes it easier. During my warm up I try make sure that the lifts are moving fast and I feel comfortable in the proper positions. Also making sure my technique is feeling fluid and smooth. During the warm up I try and make sure all lifts are consistent so that you are ready and raring to go for the all important first attempt. As for technical cues I think about keeping the bar close and getting full extension. For me if I can get these two points working in my lifts the rest of the lift tends to fall into place. You don’t want to over think your warm up or competition, just concentrate on each lift and that first attempt.


What do you think when going out on the platform to lift how does it feel for you?

I think that I need to get this lift. Every lift is important in a competition. Like the warm up I want my lifts on the platform to be fluid and smooth and I think of those two technical cues, keeping the bar close and getting full extension. It is hard to describe how it feels on the platform. Some of my biggest competitions I can’t really remember what weights I attempted let alone how it felt. I feel the adrenaline and nerves kick in and just a general buzz of lifting in front of a crowd (it doesn’t matter what the size).


What tip would you give about technique has helped you in the past?

As mentioned earlier the two main points I think about when I lift if to keep it close and get full extension/finish the pull. These two points, to me, are the biggest factors in getting the lift or not.


What’s your advice about dealing with injuries?

Don’t try and rush back too early from an injury, any injury serious or minor. Overuse or tight muscles cause most injuries in weightlifting. It is much more beneficial to fix the cause/origin of the injury rather than just fix the pain temporarily. Follow your physio’s advice and rehab exercises not matter how tedious and annoying they may seem. The longer you can spend training without injury, the better weightlifter you will be and the more you will get out of training.


What’s your advice about dealing with major competitions?

It should be like any other competition. Do not over think the situation at hand. You still weigh-in 2 hours before, you have 6 attempts and warm up will be the same as you have done many times before. Sure there will be nerves and adrenalin but try and use them to your advantage. Once you get your first attempt in, everything will feel better.


What’s your advice about getting the most out of your training?

Train hard but train smart. Weightlifting is a tough sport both physically and mentally. You don’t have to get a PB every competition or week. There are plenty of other aspects to weightlifting you can work on when training isn’t being your friend. Training hard is important but recovery is key.


If there was one thing you would like to pass on to somebody that has just started and wants to achieve great things in the sport what would it be?

Weightlifting is a marathon, not a sprint. It isn’t a sport that you can do for 6 months or 1 year and expect to make it to the top. There is no season, it’s a 365-day per year sport and it can take years to learn. Learn about the sport, learn its history and learn the rules. There is a lot more to weightlifting than performing snatch and clean and jerk a couple of times a week. But mainly just enjoy it. Weightlifting is a wonderful sport and the more you enjoy it the more you won’t mind training 6 days a week.