Steve knows his weightlifting through and through


Stephen Donovan Stephen Donovan is a hugely respected Technical Officer in weightlifting, based at the Strength Academy Wales and the undoubted highlight for Steve so far has been selection to officiate at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Australia.


Steve began weight lifting with Mark Roach and his dad Lyn in the Roach family’s garage in 1978 when the young Donovan was ten years old and in first competition, the 1979 Dyfed Schools Championships, he came a creditable fourth place and he soon gained a number of Welsh and Dyfed titles through the weight classes.


In 1980 the group moved out of the garage in to STP gym with help and support from Ronnie and Gelly James, spending some time at Tower Hill gym with the help of Yori Evans and Steve headed the podium in the 1980 championships, followed by a gold medal in the 1981 British Schools’ Championships.


Not all plain sailing


But it wasn’t always plain sailing because as Steve told us,

“I just missed out on selection for the 1990 New Zealand Commonwealth Games which was an enormous blow but I continued to lift Competitively, joining the 1994 Welsh squad  training  at Sofia Gardens, Cardiff. 

“Unfortunately at that time I picked up a couple of injuries which prevented me from competing and after some recovery time Simon Gerson roped me in to going down to Llangwm to have a go at rugby.


Memorable Games


 “Knowing some of the Llangwm characters  from the building industry, the likes of Ian ‘Gwangi’ Thomas and his brother Chris, known to all as ‘Blackthorn’, Dai and Stanley Evans, l was made to feel part of the team fairly quickly and playing for Gersons’s 2nd XV was the best introduction to senior rugby anyone could have hoped for.”


“These would include Bishop’s Cup game on a Boxing Day at the new Haverfordwest Rugby Club ground at Merlins Bridge which attracted a huge crowd and it was smashing to be involved. Now that was a tough tussle!”


Injuries force a halt to rugby . . .

After dislocating his shoulder three times eventually he had to stop playing so he managed the Llangwm 2nd’s for five years.


“Being involved in as the manager allowed me to continue to play an active part in the club and it was just as rewarding as playing – and I was really pleased to receive the ‘ Clubman of the Year’ on two occasions.”



Stephen Donovan judges competitors. . . And a return to the gym


Steve’s return to weightlifting came in 2012 when Simon Roach contacted him, Darren Rodgers and Tim Pawlett to help with the set-up of Strength Academy Wales and he was more than happy to help out after Simon did a magnificent job of selling the concept of strength and conditioning.

“We took up our positions on the board for him, and we spent hours as we cleaned, painted took floors up, put them back down,” said Steve with a chuckle. 


Simon’s vision for Welsh Weightlifting set Steve on a new journey in weightlifting qualifying  as National Technical Official in 2012, followed by International Technical Official Category Two, (October 2016), and looking forward to gaining his International Technical Official, Category One qualification, which allows him to officiate at all major competitions.


Recognition for his skills . . .


“This roll has allowed me, over the past six years, to officiate at national and international competitions and in September I was nominated by British Weightlifting and selected to officiate at the European Junior Weightlifting Championships, where I spent ten days discovering the historic city and people of Prishtina, Kosovo, while officiating at the competition.


“I have recently represented Wales at the European Technical Officials’ Seminar and Workshop, officiating at the Danish Seniors Championships in Slagelse last March.

“There I was able to reinforce and consolidate my knowledge as a Technical Official, meeting with colleagues I had worked with in Kosovo as well as fellow TO’s from all over Europe such as Estonia, Romania, Turkey and Israel.


Stephen wins a medal at Celtic Games alongside brothers Mark and Simon Roach. . . And a time to remember


“I was then selected to be an official at the 2018 Common Wealth Games at the Gold Coast last April in Brisbane, Australia, where there were five days of lifting with three sessions a day taking place; with over 200 lifters, and 40 Technical Officials to oversee the competition organised by the International Weight Lifting Federation.


As a Technical Controller, I oversaw the field of play, supervising the athletes’ kit and apparel, organised the presentation and medal ceremonies. This was an extraordinary experience for me to be officiating alongside some of the World’s best weightlifters and work with the top officials of the sport. The highlight for me during the competition was to see Gareth Evans win the first Welsh gold medal of the games for Wales as well as supporting the Pembrokeshire athletes taking part in the Games.


And finally . . .

I Have some fantastic, unbelievable memories from my brief time at GC2018, especially after meeting up with Phil Evans and his family (middle son of Mikes Bikes) who hosted me for a week showing me the beautiful Gold Coast



Unfortunately, Darren Rogers was also nominated to take part by Simon Roach to take part in the Games but unfortunately Darren was unable to go due to work commitments but the Pembrokeshire pair were soon officiating at the British University Weightlifting Championships at St Mary’s, Twickenham, where SAW lifters were taking part.


Other Hobbies 


Steve knows his weightlifting through and through“I have been a keen horseman all my life riding at Penty Park Stables with my two daughters, Niamh and Ava.

“Throughout the winter months I am designated lorry driver on hunt day leaving the yard for a day with the Pembrokeshire Hunt, with the highlight of the year turning out on the Castle Square meet on Boxing Day morning.


“During the summer months The Preseli School Equestrian Team, where Niamh and Ava are keen competitors, have taken part in NSEA competitions throughout Britain like  Stonar School Wiltshire Hickstead, with the grand final at the Royal Windsor  Show.


“They have also competed at most of the local shows, with the Pembrokeshire County Show being their favourite.”


“My son Dion spends his week nights at Merlins Bridge Boxing Club as a keen fitness fanatic, and had made a good start in the ring.


“And not forgetting my wife Allyson, who is the family star as she runs round after all of us without any complaints!”