A classics teacher at Bradford Grammar School has been selected to represent England at weightlifting in the Commonwealth Games next month.
Jack Oliver, 31, a Latin teacher, has been using the school’s gym during the evening so he can fit his training around his busy teaching schedule and commute to his home in Pontefract.
He is hoping his hard work will pay off on July 31 when he represents England in the 73kg category at the games in Birmingham.
Jack said: “I thought I’d done my last games but here I am, training for the next one. I’m really excited about taking part and thought I’d have one last crack at it.”
Jack, originally from London, began weightlifting when he was 14 when his gymnastics club converted a former broom cupboard into a weightlifting gym.
He recalled: “It was by complete chance that it opened there and I found that I really loved it. I was quite good at it from the start and when I was at school, I was training seven days a week.
“I was very lucky in that the coach at the gym – Andrew Callard – was someone who had coached at the Olympics. He was one of the best weightlifters in the country and there were a lot of other volunteer coaches who were weightlifters.”
Jack went on to compete professionally for 17 years and has a silver medal from the 2018 Commonwealth Games and came tenth in the weightlifting 77kg category during the London Olympics in 2012.
“The London Olympics was amazing with it being on home soil. When they announced my name and I heard the crowd cheering it was fantastic, an unforgettable experience,” he said.
The Leeds University graduate qualified for the Rio Olympics but dislocated his elbow in 2016 before he could compete. He then endured a painful reconstruction using artificial ligaments. After barely being able to open a door, he began lifting again a year later, only to endure three further operations on his knees after tearing his cartilage.
Jack, who joined BGS in 2018, had almost retired from the sport when in early 2021, during the pandemic, he went to the gym with a friend and started lifting again.
“I remembered how much I enjoyed it,” he said.
“I’m still enjoying it, but we’ll see. It’s brilliant to be taking part and have another go at it.”
Simon Hinchliffe, headmaster at BGS, said: “Jack has shown amazing resilience and determination to come back from some nasty injuries to compete in the Commonwealth Games. He’s a great role model for the students here and we’re very proud of him.”