Steve has started back in weight lifting after a long time

Steve has started back in weight lifting after a long time
When the Welsh Closed Weightlifting Championships recently took place in the sports hall at STP School one of the three referees charged with the responsibility of deciding if each lift was valid was Steve Donovan.
Steve lives in Haverfordwest and in taking on this important role he renewed his acquaintance with a sport in which he was a Welsh record holder in his younger days.

Early start for Steve

Steve has started back in weight lifting after a long time
Steve started out when he was only nine or ten with Lyn Roach at the garage of his house near the Withybush Hospital which became so well known for turning out promising young weightlifters, including his sons Mark and Simon.
Steve was pals in school with the boys and he continued until his late teens before injury forced him out of action. So when Simon started up the Strength Academy Wales in the superb new facility at STP, Simon roped in Steve to return to the sport after a long gap where he played rugby for Llangwm and continued his love of horse riding – but more of those later.

Coaching course attended . . .

Steve attended a coaching course last August where top coach Rhodri Thomas was joined by Simon in helping 20 eager participants from all over South Wales to learn more about coaching weightlifting to youngsters in their clubs, Steve Owen and Darren Rogers were also in attendance as others keen to help out at Haverfordwest and all three have been involved ever since.

. . . and a referees’ course too!

From there it was on to a referees’ course in Cardiff held by Steve Cannon, the chairman of the British Olympic Weightlifting Federation.
“It was a real eye opener,” admitted Steve, because beforehand we had to study from a preliminary package provided and at the end of a long day had to sit a one-hour written test.
“Now we will be mentored for the next two years as the final part of the process.”
So the Welsh Closed competition was doubly testing for Steve because it was not only important for him and his fellow referees to get decisions right for the lifters but was part of his development as an official!
“The ‘clean and jerk’ section is a little easier to adjudicate,” Steve told us, “because it is broken down into two separate movements but the ‘snatch’ is far more technical and explosive. But I was pleased by the way things went – and so was my mentor!”

Real inspiration

Going back to Steve’s start in weightlifting he is still hugely complimentary but Lyn Roach’s work.
“He was an inspiration to us all and taught us really good habits which have held us in good stead for life.
Lyn organised the Dyfed Schools’ Weightlifting Championships and Steve won three times and was runner up twice as he competed against very strong opposition from Amman valley and Carmarthen.

One-time Welsh record holder and champion lifter

Steve is rightly proud of the fact that he was at one time the Welsh record holder in the ‘clean & jerk’, ‘snatch’ and combined total. When Mark Roach went to the 1990 Commonwealth Games, Steve was also in the preparation squad but missed out by a whisker on final selection, despite having lifted 140kgs in the ‘clean & jerk’ and 120kgs in the ‘snatch’.
“I was gutted,” said Steve, “and then a shoulder injury sustained after so much repetitive strain caused me to stop lifting.”

‘Gwangie’ gets him to play rugby for Llangwm

It was at this time that Steve switched to playing rugby after Llangwm stalwart Ian ‘Gwangie’ Thomas persuaded him to start playing as a prop at Pill Parks alongside real characters like John Nutting, Simon Gerson and Chris ‘Blackthorn’ Thomas. His fondest memories are the Bishop Cup games against Haverfordwest, “I scored in one Bishop Cup match where we lost 50-7 but it was a thrill to plough over the line and I thoroughly enjoyed my involvement with the Wasps.
After six years of the front row battles Steve sustained a nasty shoulder injury and had to call a halt to his playing days, but spent another five years on the committee and represented the Wasps on the Pembrokeshire and District Junior Union Committee.
“They were a great bunch at Llangwm and I’m still a Wasp through and through, especially on Bishop Cup days!”

Horse riding and family matters

Steve has also been a horse man and still rides with the Pembrokeshire Hunt whenever he has the chance, riding a 17-hands horse called Splash.
It seems his elder daughter Niamh (11) is following dad in this sport because she is a very good show jumper on horses provided by Sarah Hughes. She competes in the Pembrokeshire and National Series competitions at Moor Farm and currently leads both as she has accumulated points throughout the season.
Younger daughter Ava (8) is also good with horses and hopes to take part in show jumping in the spring. Then there’s son Dion, who is a promising young weightlifter, who has taken up weightlifting and aims to compete in the Welsh Schools’ Championships, also at STP School, in August. That just leaves Steve’s wife Allyson, who Steve says is the most important part of the Donovan team as the chief organiser!

Newest sporting interest

Steve’s newest sporting interest centres on cycling after joining Gareth Ralph and Gareth Jones in taking part in cycling ‘sportives’. They successfully completed the Pembrokeshire Cycling Sportive in St Davids, a distance of 50 miles and have also finished three 100-mile events – and their next challenge is the punishing ‘Dragon Ride’, which takes in the Bwlch and Rhigos Mountains near Aberdare, and where they aim to raise funds for the McMillan cancer Charity.

Back in the weights room

But now it is weightlifting which is Steve’s main sporting interest again and he is on the committee at SAW alongside Tim Pawlett and Phil Williams, with Simon Roach as the inspirational figure at the helm as he also links with the Scarlets Rugby Club.
“Weightlifting was in the doldrums for some years,” said Steve’ “but with Simon’s drive and energy it is taking off again. 
“Justin Head has just started a new club in Pembroke and Steve Owen has done the same in Milford Haven.
“We are looking for new members who are guaranteed every encouragement if they are keen and then we can pay tribute to the great names of weightlifting’s past in Pembrokeshire, like Lyn Roach, Iorrie Evans, Steve Evans and John Vincent-Davies!”