Dan Davies is a driving force in junior Welsh weight lifting


Weight lifter Daniel DaviesDaniel Davies first attended the SAW Gymnasium in Haverfordwest as a pacy winger in the junior section coached by Steve Parry and Andrew Thicker at Haverfordwest RFC who wanted to build his upper-body strength and so joined friends Rhys Kennard and Gabriel Thicker, who had encouraged him to give it a try.
So he popped along and was delighted with the warm welcome he received from Simon Roach, Chloe Hood and the other coaches, plus those who were already working hard there, as he was taught the skills of the ‘Snatch’ and ‘Clean & Jerk’ techniques used in competitive weight-lifting.

Knew that his new sport was just right for him as real success followed

That visit was the start of a transformation for Dan since he knew from that moment that weight-lifting was for him and he literally found it hard to wait for the next training session to come so that he could learn more.
So his rapid rise through the ranks has seen rugby have to take a back seat because of his commitment to his new-found sport which has seen him recently-returned with a gold medal from the European Junior Championships, which were held at Lochen in Austria – under the Sinclair System, where final places are influenced by the relative age and weight of the participants.
“It was a few days I will never forget,” Dan told us, “and I will never forget that proud moment when my name was announced and I stood at the top of the podium with a Welsh Flag wrapped around my shoulders and I was listening to our national anthem.
“It was shown on You Tube and that evening we all attended a massive banquet and I was able to celebrate the whole Welsh team’s success with my team mates and coaches.”

A few days he will never forget

Dan had joined three girls and five other boys in the Welsh Squad and in his category one of his team-mates came second and a young German lifter was third out of 14 competitors. The whole Welsh team did amazingly well with everyone coming home with a medal and the Welsh team came second overall. 
“With our coaches we had flown from Heathrow Airport to Frankfurt and Salzburg before two minibuses took us to Lochen, where the championships were held.
“We settled in for the rest of the day and on the following day we were given a guided tour of the small town, followed by a five-mile stroll through a nearby woods, so it was fairly relaxed.
“Then the big day dawned and I must admit I was a bit nervous, especially when we saw the huge hall and the packed audience – but they knew their stuff and gave us a fantastic welcome.
“Standing on the lifting mat I felt focused and we have been taught to not think about anything other than the job in hand – and although when we started with the snatch part of the competition I didn’t have my best set of three lifts I was in contention – and I was far happier with my clean and jerk set and at the end of the competition it was amazing to see my name on the electronic scoreboard against the No 1 place!”

Taught the basics well when he set out

Going back to his start in weightlifting, Dan is full of praise for the way that Simon Roach, Justin Head, Chloe Hood, Lewis Davies and the other coaches, emphasized the need for good technique so that no undue pressure was put on his body.
From the outset, the emphasis was on safety and making sure there was no hurry to rush him to make progress until they were sure he was ready.
“We started out learning what to do with just a metal bar with no weights attached and it was only when Simon and Justin knew that I was confident in the different techniques of ‘Snatch’ and ‘Clean & Jerk’ that they gradually added a little weight at each end of the bar and my weight lifting was up and running.

Daniel Davies prepares to lift

Technical matters explained well - . . .

“In the Snatch the bar has to lifted from the floor to a position where my arms are locked above my head, all in one continuous movement, whilst in the Clean & Jerk the bar has to be lifted up to the chest and rested on the bones nicknamed the ‘salt cellars’ there.
“Then I’m allowed to rest, settle the bar and then propel it upwards in one movement and lock my arms above my head – and in both lifts I have to be in control throughout and finish with my feet fixed solidly to the floor, with no movement.”

. . . And have really paid off

All of this technique stuff was followed carefully and it has certainly paid off because Dan has grown in confidence and the end result is the fact that in the intervening time, despite being only 16 years old, he has achieved 20 Welsh records, nine at under 15 level and 11 at under 17 level, plus three UK records and a current No 1 spot in the UK rankings!
When Dan started out in competitive lifting his first competition was held locally at the old STP School hall and he readily admits he was a bit nervous as he waited to go out onto the mat, in the full glare of the lights, in front of quite a big crowd.
“I had been told to shut any noise out and focus on the bar but I could tell that they were very supportive and after succeeding with my first lift the nervousness disappeared and I was delighted when I finally finished in first place.

Success from the start of his lifting

“Then I went on to the Pembrokeshire Championships at Fishguard School in October 2017, when I was 12 years old, and won that with lifts of 24kgs (snatch) and 33kgs (clean and jerk) - and as I got older and stronger I kept improving my personal bests gradually, thanks to all the encouragement I received from my coaches.
“Another highlight came when I went to Bangor, in North Wales, and competed in the Celtic Nations Championships against Scotland and Ireland in front of a massive crowd - and the Welsh team came away with a gold medal
“When I was in the 49kgs class my PB combined total was 113kgs, and this then moved up to 119kgs, 155 kgs and then 198 kgs in the under 17 class.”

And finally . . .

Daniel is very modest about his achievements so far but there is no doubt that there is plenty more to come yet.
After the huge success in Austria he was quickly back at The Saw Gym and starting more work on his strength, fitness and skill levels.
He rightly praises his coaches’ efforts on his behalf but they in return are really pleased with how he is making progress.
There is no doubt that under the watchful eye of Simon Roach they form a perfect team and we look forward to more good news from Dan Davies in the years to come because he is fully focussed on aiming high and doing well.

Clean lift by Daniel Davies