Careful perseverance rewarded

Graeme Evans back at work in the Otago Weightlifting gym after winning three medals at the World...
Graeme Evans back at work in the Otago Weightlifting gym after winning three medals at the World Masters Championships last week.PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
Graeme Evans is one to find ways to do things.

He is certainly not one to accept reasons why he cannot.

A year ago the 52-year-old prison guard was in hospital, having suffered a heart attack while training at home during lockdown.

Twelve months later he has won the overall bronze medal at the Olympic weightlifting world masters championships in the men’s 50-54 102kg category.

The contest was held over Zoom last week and, competing at his home Otago Weightlifting gym in Dunedin, Evans won three medals.

That included a 108kg snatch, which won him silver, and a 130kg clean and jerk, which claimed bronze.

It was a great result, although he said the lifts were not quite as much as he hoped for.

Those numbers were more significant to him than the medals.

Despite that, it had been special to have achieved that after a "pretty significant life changing experience".

Indeed, he had been told by a specialist to give his sport up.

However, rather than simply stopping, he looked into finding a way to safely continue in a sport he had been doing for years.

He read every book and article he could find on the subject — finding there was not a lot of research out there, and there were mixed opinions among what had been done.

Evans now listens to his body more.

He has a smart watch to track his heart rate and he no longer does the heavy-lifting in training or long sessions he used to.

Alongside that he has lost weight and walks regularly to keep up his cardiovascular fitness.

It all contributed to finding a way to keep doing what he loved — just doing it more carefully.

"I try to think about the possibilities, what is actually possible, rather than the limitations," he said.

"Rather than being limited by those things, I try to use them to drive me.

"People think you’re getting old — I’m 52 maybe its time to give it up. Heaps of people say to give it up, but nah.

"Every seven weeks Callan gives me a training programme and it’s like unwrapping a present on Christmas morning. It’s never been a chore."

He said last week’s result had been the result of four years of work.

Having begun the sport after going to watch his children lifting, he said it was something that ignited a "primal instinct" in him.

He said it was more than a one-person achievement and credited those around the gym as being influential in helping him win the medals — notably Callan Helms, while also mentioning Peter Appleby and Mark White.

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