SUPER heavyweight Damon Kelly has been carrying the hopes of the sport in Australia on his broad shoulders for a decade, and he wants to keep going for another three years.
The 31-year-old will contest this weekend's national championships in Melbourne on the way to what he hopes will be a third and final Olympic Games in Rio next year.
But it's the prospect of going out with a gold medal in front of his home crowd at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast that has kept the big man powering on.
"It's too good an opportunity to pass up," Kelly, who played alongside NRL star Cooper Cronk at high school in Brisbane and had visions of a rugby career, told APN.
"If the Gold Coast hadn't got the Games, I don't know if I would have gone on.
"But a gold medal in my home Commonwealth Games - that would be a perfect way to go out."
Kelly has already been to three Commonwealth Games, winning silver in Melbourne in 2006, gold in Delhi four years later and bronze in Glasgow last year when his preparation was hampered by a torn quad four months earlier.
He has also competed at two Olympic Games, debuting in Beijing in 2008 when he finished a very creditable ninth with a total of 386kg.
That was made up of 165kg in the snatch and 221kg in the clean and jerk.
By comparison, fellow super heavyweight Dean Lukin, Australia's only Olympic gold medallist in the sport, totalled 421kg when he triumphed in Los Angeles in 1984.
Kelly also went to the London Olympics in 2012, finishing 16th with 381kg.
Life has changed a great deal for the big man since then, not the least being the arrival of two boys - Patrick in December that year and Thomas in October last year.
He is also working two jobs - coaching at the Brisbane Barbell Club, which is based at his old school, and also working as a development officer for the Queensland Weightlifting Association.
Despite the busy schedule, Kelly said he was close to "90% of my best level", producing lifts of 155kg (snatch) and 195kg (clean and jerk) in training.
That should be good enough to take out another national title this weekend before he steps up the pace at the Commonwealth Championships in India in October.
Then it will be the all-important Oceania Championships in May next year when Australia will need to finish in the top five countries to earn the right for one lifter to compete at the Olympics.
"I'd certainly like that to be me," he said.
"I'm definitely trying to work towards Olympic selection."
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