The three kilos that will make Evansí sacrifice for Olympic glory all worth it
Gary Baker on 26/03/2012
When Gareth Evans' daughter was born, he would never have realized that her body weight would be all that lay between him and his lifelong goal.
The Holyhead weightlifter needs to put three kilograms over his head to land a place at the London Olympic Games this summer.
The other rather large stumbling block is that he needs to add another 280 kilograms - over half-a-ton - to that tiny weight for the dream to come true.
But he hopes to do just that at the start of next month at the European Championships in Hungary and make all the sacrifice he has had to endure worthwhile.
For Evans, 28, gave up his job in North Wales, moved miles away from his family and has had to survive on a meagre amount of money on his weightlifting journey.
He is one of Wales' two top-class lifters - Swansea's Natasha Purdue is the other - who are based in Leeds and spending every minute they can muster pushing iron over their heads.
It will be worth every strenuous moment if he walks out at the Olympic Park on July 27, with his tracksuit on and the eyes of the world watching the Games Opening Ceremony.
Evans said: "There has been a lot of British lifters who have been to the Olympics in the last 40 years but Wales have only had two - Michaela Breeze and David Morgan - so to just be in the same bracket as them would be incredible.
"When people mention the Olympics to me and going there, they ask 'Do you plan to get gold?' I just say I want to be in the Games. That's all."
It is, though, all down to that three kilograms - a little over six-and-a-half pounds which is the weight of a small new-born baby.
The Olympic Games qualifying A standard is a combined snatch and clean-and-jerk total of 283 kilos. So far, Evans has pushed an agonizingly close 280 kilos in training.
But the Wrexham FC fan, who sports a Welsh dragon tattoo on his arm, is confident of making the grade.
He said: "I could get the B standard but it is not counted unless it is done in the European Championships. Anyway, I'm not planning to do that. I'm just planning to get the A standard.
"There are only three men and two women who will make the team and, personally, I think I am one of the three people capable of getting that A standard. Peter Kirkbride (Scotland) and Jack Oliver (England) are the others."
He started lifting when his airman father was re-stationed from RAF St Athan, in the Vale of Glamorgan, to Anglesey in the mid-1990s.
Evans attended the local comprehensive school and his teacher entered him to try competition called Britain's Strongest Schoolboy.
He said: "I didn't take a great deal of notice but a few weeks later, I was told I had won it! I was in the British schoolboy squad throughout school and was playing rugby as well so, when I got to aged 16 and 17, I had to decide between weightlifting and rugby.
"Weightlifting is where I wanted to be."
But it has meant sacrifices. He said: "Last June, I made the decision that I was going to leave Holyhead and live at the High Performance Centre in Leeds to train there full-time.
"It has meant leaving my job and living on £400 a month. I have a daughter in North Wales and I had to leave her too, which was very hard."
However, Evans has already managed to lift for Wales at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and, after overcoming a shoulder injury last year which could have wrecked his Olympic dream, he is getting better and better by the day.
And even if he does manage that magical three kilos extra that will give him a place in London, Evans intends to carry relentlessly on towards the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and, he hopes, a swansong on Australia's Gold Coast at the 2018 Commonwealths.
So much is riding on this year but it is bound to make Evans and his family in North Wales proud if he achieves his goal next month and walks to represent Great Britain in his 69 kilos class at London's ExCel Arena on July 31.
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