Weightlifting Latin teacher bids for a carpe diem moment

Jack Oliver, a teacher at Bradford Grammar School, will bid to seize the day when he represents England at weightlifting in next month’s Commonwealth Games

A Latin teacher at Bradford Grammar School (BGS) has been selected to represent England at weightlifting in the Commonwealth Games next month.

Jack Oliver will be looking to go one step better than the 2018 games in Australia, when he claimed silver in the 77 kg category.

“I thought I’d done my last games, but here I am, training for the next one,” he said. “I’m really excited about taking part and thought I’d have one last crack at it.”

Ideally placed to understand that the 31 July event will require acta non verba – deeds not words – the 31-year-old has been co-opting the BGS gym to fit training around his work schedule.

He took up the sport, aged, 14, when his local gym in London converted a former broom cupboard into a weightlifting gym.

“It was by complete chance that it opened there and I found that I really loved it,” Oliver reflected. “I was quite good at it from the start and, when I was at school, I was training seven days a week.”

This fortune was amplified by the fact that the facility employed renowned coach, Andrew Callard, helping pave the way for a 17-year professional career that included a tenth-place finish at the London Olympics in 2012.

“I thought I’d done my last games, but here I am”

“The London Olympics was amazing with it being on home soil,” said Oliver. “When they announced my name and I heard the crowd cheering it was fantastic, an unforgettable experience.”

A succession of injuries had to be overcome before claiming that medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the same year he arrived at BGS.

Oliver was practically retired when, early last year, during the pandemic, he headed to the gym with a friend and found his passion rekindled.

“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.”

Whether or not the teacher’s carpe diem spirit proves successful, his boss is already impressed.

“Jack has shown amazing resilience and determination to come back from some nasty injuries to compete in the Commonwealth Games,” said Simon Hinchliffe, headmaster at BGS.

“He’s a great role model for the students here and we’re very proud of him.”

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