Commonwealth Games: David Morgan: Weightlifting: History beckons the new Redgrave

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The Independent Online
WHEN YOU have already got seven Commonwealth Games gold medals to your name then you should be able to retire a happy man. Not if you are David Morgan.

Arguably Britain's finest weightlifter of the last generation, Morgan is a man who is prepared to break through the pain barrier to get what he wants. He did that in Victoria, Canada, four years ago and now he is ready to do it again at his fifth Games.

Now 34, Morgan has, in effect, done the same sort of sporting U-turn that Britain's four-time Olympic gold medal rower Steve Redgrave did in the wake of his Atlanta glory. Despite telling a reporter to "bloody shoot me" if he ever got back into a boat again, Redgrave just could not resist the challenge of trying for one more gold.

For the Olympics read the Commonwealth Games, and for Redgrave read Morgan. "My life ambition has been to do something that nobody else has achieved," the Cambridge-based Welshman said. "If you are someone who has done something unique then I believe you can do anything.

"No athlete, in any sport, has won five Commonwealth Games titles. It seems a shame not to have a go, even though I hadn't lifted competitively for three years until I made my comeback at the end of last year.

"When I won the gold in Victoria, Canada, four years ago I simply said to myself 'enough is enough'. It was so hard winning that fourth title. I was injured during the last stages of the build-up to the Games after snapping a tendon in my wrist and I also had personal problems, including the death of my dad four weeks before the Games opened.

"By the end of the Games I was knackered because the competition had been so much closer than it should have been. I was competing against people who were inferior in class to me, yet because of my problems it had finished as such a close contest. So when it was all over I said never again. I was just too tired to contemplate going on competing any more.

"But I guess I was talking a bit like a woman after having her first child. At that stage she says there is no chance of having another baby, yet a few months on she is planning an addition to her family."

It took Morgan almost three years to decide to call an end to his self- imposed exile from the sport he had graced since the early Eighties. Keeping fit with some recreational running, rowing and cycling did not compare to battling with the best lifters in the world.

The 1984 world middleweight champion, Morgan twice finished fourth at the Olympic Games and to this day resents the fact he has not received the accolades and support in Wales his achievements merit. Perhaps that is why he has decided to have one more crack at convincing the people in the land of his father that he is on a par with the likes of Lynn Davies, Colin Jackson and Gareth Edwards.

Morgan first struck gold as an 18-year-old in Brisbane. He successfully defended his title in Edinburgh four years later before scooping the pool in Auckland in 1990 when he took all three gold medals - clean and jerk, snatch and overall. That made it five gold medals on the mantelpiece and two more followed at the Victoria Games, including a fourth overall title.

Morgan's self-imposed exile ended in hopeful style when he began his warm-up for the Games in at the Welsh trials in Cardiff in March. Showing no signs of rustiness, and a typical competitive edge, he twice bettered the 77kg class Commonwealth snatch record. "I was very encouraged by what I did at the Welsh trials. I knew that I still had some way to go but the spark was back and I was confident afterwards that I could get back to my best by the time the Games started," Morgan said.

"The Commonwealth record in the snatch section was 137.5kg, but I raised it to 145kg. That should send a clear message to the other lifters in the Commonwealth that I mean business again. I want to get back to my best totals of a decade ago - 155kg snatch and 190kg clean and jerk - by the time I go to Kuala Lumpur."

Although Morgan ended with a modest overall total of 305kg - 145kg snatch and 160kg clean and jerk - at the Welsh trials it was enough to convince him he was doing the right thing in chasing his dream. And if he gets that fifth title? Do not bet against a sixth.

ROBERT COLE

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