Strength of character spurs Olympic weightlifter to dream big

SHE’s only 4ft 11″ but Kelly-Jo Robson is an Olympic weightlifter ranked second in Britain crowdfunding to raise £2,000 for training blocks to realise big dreams and compete at the Commonwealth Games.

You are originally from Brotton in East Cleveland and now live in Stockton, what did you want to be growing up?

I always dreamt the big dream of competing as a gymnast at the Olympics. This dream however was not to be, but I feel has prepared me for the future challenges in life I have faced. Having a tough mindset and always pushing myself to achieve the best I can.

Have you always been sporty? What sports/teams were you involved with at school and at what level?

I’ve always been sporty but only ever loved gymnastics until I have found Olympic weightlifting later on. I didn’t have enough time for any other sports as gymnastics 4/5 times a week is very time consuming and is all i ever wanted to do. You would often see me cartwheeling down the street 🙂 I did gymnastics wherever and whenever I could.

How did you end up in the job you’re doing now at the age of 27?

I ended up in the job I do now as a Personal Trainer and Strength & conditioning coach, through my love of gymnastics because I love coaching techniques and my passion for health.

Have qualifications got you where you are, has it been sheer hard work and talent or a combination?

I’ve gained the qualifications I need for my job over a long period of time, due to me searching for a career that I love. However becoming self employed is scary at first but if you don’t jump then you will never know how high you can go.

How and when did you start weightlifting and how did you know you were good at it?

I started Olympic weightlifting two years ago, on my strength and conditioning internship. You have to be able to teach it for power development in athletes. Dave Sawyer, a highly respected GB Olympic weightlifting coach who currently off to Rio with our athlete delivered the two-day workshop and spotted me. I got two personal bests (PB) of 5kg on each lift over the two days, just from his coaching advice. He suggested I train properly and do a competition. I won my first competition and have never looked back since.

How does it make you feel to lift something so heavy?

I love the technical challenge of lifting. The only way to lift heavy is to perform the technique as perfect as you can EVERY TIME. Olympic weightlifting is very mentally challenging which I think some people forget.

Kelly-Jo Robson with Olympic Weightlifting coach Dave Sawyer, mum Elizabeth Dinning and partner Daniel Robinson.

Kelly-Jo Robson with Olympic Weightlifting coach Dave Sawyer, mum Elizabeth Dinning and partner Daniel Robinson.

What is the heaviest weight you’ve lifted and what class do you compete in?

I compete in the 48kg class which is the lightest due to me only being 4 feet 11inches. My current PB’s are Snatch lift 62kg and Clean and Jerk lift 78kg.

How important is mental as well as physical strength?

Mental strength plays an enormous part in Olympic weightlifting to understand your body and make it move around the bar the same every time is hard work.

How do you work on that vital mental fitness?

My mental strength comes from my gymnastics background. I believe if I’ve done something once I can definitely do it again. Also, my coaches Dave Sawyer and Cyril Martin fill me with confidence, constructive feed back and a positive attitude.

Are you training now for the Commonwealth Games 2018?

I am very hopeful and intend on trying my very best to be good enough for the next Commonwealth Games.

How do you get noticed by the Olympic selectors?

Through competitions and development the Olympic selectors will be able to see my progress. There is very little funding in Olympic weightlifting the males don’t receive anything and there are only six girls that get funding. I hope to gain funding status as soon as I can however two years is a very short time and I need to build strength and develop perfect technique every time.

Where do you train and how often?

I train at Lifestyle Fitness in Middlesbrough seven times a week, Mondays and Fridays I train double so i get Thursday and Sunday as rest days however that’s with no coach. My coaches Dave Sawyer & Cyril Martin are 102miles away in Derby so I try to get there as often as I can afford.

How proud of yourself are you of your incredible weightlifting achievements?

I am quite proud of my achievements so far but I have a lot of hunger and drive to be even better.

What is a typical training day like?

Get up around 5.15am train clients till mid morning, train myself, protein shake and lunch, study/client programming time (nap, if needed) then back to work.
A double training day will be train again either after clients in the evening or just before them.

What do you do on your days off?

I like to just chill, either with work on my I pad for clients or catching up on TV.

Do you indulge in food that isn’t healthy?

I love cookies and cakes at the minute and yes I do eat them when I am not being so strict with my diet.

How carefully do you have to watch what you eat?

Around four to five weeks before competitions I have to be extremely good, no treats, no eating out, everything made from scratch and only sugar free jelly and dark chocolate to help my sweet tooth not drive me mad. Whilst tracking my macros on MyFitnessPal app and my body weight nearly every morning.
Do you think anyone – if they put their mind to it – could achieve physically?

I am a strong believer that anyone can do anything they set their mind to achieve. If you are dedicated enough you will get there.

You’ve set up a crowdfunding site to raise money for training blocks, travel to train with your coach two hours away and your goal of competing for England in the 2018 Commonwealth Games – how vital is it for you to hit the £2,000 goal?

I need jerk blocks to assist my training to practice the skill of the jerk broken down so I don’t have to lower the 60+kg bar down onto my collar bones in between reps. Raising £2000 for the jerk blocks will dramatically impact my performance as it will make it easier to work on the technical part of skills and reduce the risk of my wrist injury returning.

How did you injure your wrist recently?

My wrist injury I think came from the timing of a jerk in competition. However my left side was damaged when I was performing gymnastics and I flew off the bars. So it was most probably a combination of both.

Do you feel pressure to be a role model to others?

The only pressure I feel to be a role model to others is to just always be well-presented and respectful of others. I have these morals for myself and I try to stick to them as best I can.

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?

In 2009 I came third on the TV show Total Wipeout.


To sponsor Kelly-Jo Robson and help her raise money for training blocks click here 



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