7:00am Thursday 20th February 2014
Ben Watson is hoping to fulfil a lifelong ambition in Glasgow this summer after rising to become one of the leading young weightlifters in the country.
The 23-year-old, from Didcot, is among the hopefuls looking to represent England at the Commonwealth Games this summer.
He already holds a clutch of British Under 23 records following his success at the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championships in Penang, Malaysia last year.
Competing in the 105kg weight class, Watson equalled his own record lift of 153kg in the snatch and added 175kg in the clean and jerk to give him a national under 23 record total of 328kg.
And after finishing sixth in Malaysia Watson is confident he can improve further in time for the Commonwealth Games this summer.
“I think it was a really similar standard to what the Commonwealth Games are going to be,” he said. “Most of the countries that are going to be at the Games were there.
“It was the first time I’ve seen most of the guys who I’ll hopefully be competing against and they’re very good.
“At the moment I’m mixing it with most of them on the first lift, which is the snatch.
“In Malaysia, my best lift was 150kg, which turned out to be the second-best on the day.
“I’m a bit behind on the clean and jerk. I’m lifting 175-180kg while some of those guys are doing up to 200kg, so I know what I’ve got to aim for.
“I was just two kilos behind fourth place, so I’m really hoping that I can turn that position into an opportunity to challenge for a medal.”
Watson’s coach at Didcot’s St Birinus club, Philip Karlsson, is optimistic about his pupil’s chances.
Karlsson has been Watson’s tutor since the age of 11 and believes he is good enough to compete at the top.
“Reaching the Commonwealth Games could be straightforward,” he said.
“It’s just a case of staying fit and minimising those issues which all athletes deal with, because he has to train very hard.
“If he can do that, then I think he’s going to be up there among the medals.
“There are one or two who are way above the rest, but the bronze medal is very achievable.
“If all goes well he should be competing for a medal.”
Watson has to undertake a strict schedule of training to be ready for the Games, but says it’s all in a day’s work.
“I’m working at St Birinus School as a teaching assistant and I coach the weightlifting club as well, because this is what I love,” Watson added.
“At the end of the school day, I’ll do some coaching, I might go home and get some food and then I will come back and train with a few other lads.
“I train five times a week and at the moment I’m not going to change that,”
“I’ve got to make sure I do the right training and work on any weaknesses that I might have.
“So I’ll do some preparation training at the start of the year and after that it’ll eventually taper off.
“Hopefully that will leave me in peak condition for the Commonwealth Games and I’m hopeful that I’ll be in the mix for a medal.”
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