Cork teenager Roche is raising the bar on the weightlifting scene

Cork teenager Roche is raising the bar on the weightlifting scene
Picture: David Keane.

WHEN the school year starts again in the coming weeks, Shane Roche knows his dedication to the sport he loves will be pushed to the limit.

“School comes first obviously but when it does come back in he will still do his morning sessions,” confirms his trainer Michael O’Leary.

Roche has spent some of his summer break in Garretstown but it isn’t entirely a holiday as he has set aside one of the rooms in the mobile home that he is staying in for his Weightlifting training.

But with his return to secondary school on the horizon, it will also mark the return of a hectic schedule.

“Those morning sessions could only be half an hour or 40 minutes because you have got to take care of the athletes,” adds O’Leary.

Shane Roche with his coach Mike O'Leary. Picture: David Keane.
Shane Roche with his coach Mike O'Leary. Picture: David Keane.

“He will work hard though, he will get up in the morning, get his gym session done in the morning – he has a gym set up in his garage at home – he will head to school, come back get his food, get the homework done and then at half six he will be in the club getting his training session done with his teammates.

“He also does work with a nutritionist to make sure his diet is in check. Weightlifting fails on three things; lack of recovery, lack of food and people getting stupid with the training programme. Nutrition and sleep are the big ones but he minds his diet but he has that down.

“He loves it, he is absolutely obsessed with it and his discipline is through the roof and I am delighted for him he is absolutely killing it.”

The results speak for themselves as the talented 17-year-old continues to progress through the ranks and continues to add weight onto the bar.

“He has been fairly consistent this year,” says O’Leary.

“Since the start of the year, he has upped the training because he got on to the Ireland youth development squad so from there he went to six training sessions a week to up to 10 or 12 sessions a week.

“He is really pushing on now. He won the national youths there in April with a 90kg and 110 kg and a 200 kg total, for someone of his age that is just fantastic.

“He made his international debut in June he was competing at the European Union Confederation Cup which is kind of smaller nation’s competition.

“He went out and did six for six lifts which is the perfect competition and he did it with a competition total personal best so in terms of anything else, it is like making your debut on the Irish rugby team and scoring a try.

“He’s working very hard. In terms of the two training sessions a day for such a young lad he is so disciplined and his work rate is through the roof, he must have got that from his dad (Michael Roche) who was an Olympic boxer.

“Even from the end of last year he had a competition and he was hitting 83 kg in the snatch and 102 kg in the clean and jerk, now eight months later he is up to 95 kg in the snatch and 120 kg in the clean and jerk which is a total that a senior athlete would be happy with at his body weight. He’s absolutely flying it.”

O’Leary trains Roche at the Cork Weightlifting club in the Marina Commercial Park and he admits the youngster’s success and dedication to the sport has helped the club grow significantly.

Picture: David Keane.
Picture: David Keane.

“We even have 11-year-olds involved now and we have a massive group of 15 to 23-year-olds working really well together.

“We also have a 77-year-old as well lifting with us which just goes to show how adaptable this sport can be for people.

“That’s bringing Shane on as well because there are young lads coming up now that are pushing for him as well and that has created a great atmosphere but they are all responsible as well.

“We are finding more that people want to do Olympic weight lifting as a hobby and it has really attracted a lot of different types of people.

“The female aspect of weight lifting is blowing up as well, some of Ireland’s best lifters are on the female side.

“It is really nice to see this kind of community building nice and steadily and everyone is just enjoying the sport.

“The weightlifting aspect is massively, massively technical. A lot of people think all we do is come in grunt and try to get heavy lifts all the time but it’s massively to do with how the body moves, how the joints are in check, your competition preparation and what you are doing every single part of the lift.

“So what he does is the strength work and then working on his technical aspects. It’s paying dividends now, the amount he has progressed over the years is outstanding and he is just going from strength to strength with it.”

The progress Roche has made in the last year has been significant and while O’Leary is keen to keep the majority of their future objectives to themselves, the pair do have their eyes on one particular goal.

“He’s off to the European Weightlifting Federation youth training camp in Latvia at the end of August for a week,” confirms O’Leary.

“For him, the next big step is to qualify for the senior championship which would be a big accomplishment for someone his age.

“We keep the long term goals close but we are expecting to see Shane represent Ireland quite frequently in the coming years.”

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