Kelly has Aussies raising the bar

Olympian introduces weightlifting regime

Australia's cricketers have turned to weightlifting in a new direction for strength and conditioning under the tutelage of Olympic athlete and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Damon Kelly.

Kelly will seek to defend his Commonwealth 105kg+ super-heavyweight title in Glasgow in July, but has taken time-out from his preparations to be a guest instructor at the National Cricket Centre.

He ran his first class on Tuesday teaching the squad proper form and technique, surprising some players with the weight they could lift by using the correct method.

"Any lifts in weightlifting, it is technique first and foremost and then strength can definitely come later," said Kelly.

"It's really important to get the technique first and get that right and later on down the track you can add more work."

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Despite most of the squad never having lifted in this way before, Kelly was impressed by their performance.

"They took it on board, a lot of them it was something new that they hadn't done before," he said.

"They were quick learners as well so by the end of the session they were pretty good. And we'll keep working on that over the next couple of weeks."

The invitation to teach came from Cricket Australia's Strength and Conditioning Coach Damian Mednis, and was gleefully accepted by the 147kg Queenslander.

"I know it's a bit out of left-field," said Mednis. "But when you look at who are the strongest athletes in the world, it is the weightlifters.

"They're multi-joint exercises; you can cut down the number of hours you're spending in the gym but get better quality work done."

That time-saving quality was the big attraction of weightlifting, said Mednis.

"When we're on tour, what I found is we're going to do a gym session that may go for 50 or 60 minutes. (With weightlifting) we just pick three exercises and we can knock over that session very, very quickly.

"It's good, quality work and that's what we're after."

The exercises will help strengthen players' lower bodies and with the Mednis' mantra that "winning starts in the hips" weightlifting will add power to the lower limbs.

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Mednis admitted to hesitation when toying with a shake-up to the strength and conditioning programme, but said the response from Australia's elite cricketers had been "simply outstanding".

"The boys have bought into it and they can see the worth of it," said Mednis.

"The number of reps agrees with guys. They don't have to work about eight or ten reps, they can do good quality work around three to four reps.

"That's the biggest factor we've got to push upon these guys: technique and quality."

Australia batsman Phil Hughes was one of the players who immediately took to weightlifting.

"It was a little bit different to what we've been doing but something that we're going to go forward with and he was very, very good," said Hughes.

"It's great to have him around, ask him a few questions about how he goes about his training. It's totally different to us but it's great to have someone come in from the outside and show us some weightlifting skills."

Kelly admits he often daydreams of donning the Baggy Green between reps while training, and was blown away by the quality of the NCC's facilities.

"Damian brought me out and showed me around. It would be great to have something like this for weightlifting but it's great for the cricketers to have all this under one roof," said Kelly.

Kelly's path to golden Glasgow

Damon Kelly has eight weeks left until the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, powering up to defend the gold medal he won in Delhi four years ago.

Preparation has been far from ideal for the hulking 147kg Queenslander after an injury in late March nearly derailed his campaign.

"I suffered a quad tear in late March," said Kelly. "It took me about seven weeks to get over that and get back on track.

"It's not ideal preparation but I'm glad it's better and I can spend the next couple of months getting my strength back and getting ready for the Games."

Kelly boasts personal best of 176kg for the snatch and 222kg in the clean and jerk. He's not expecting to be in a position to better those marks this year following the injury.

"The injury was a bit of a big hiccup," Kelly admits.

"I was on track to hopefully set some (personal bests). But with that couple of months in rehab I'm not too sure, it's a bit of an unknown.

"Hopefully I can get my lifts back up there to be within a shot of the medals."

Kelly, who also represented Australia at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympic Games, works part-time with support from the Australian Sports Commission, the Australian Weightlifting Federation and the Queensland Academy of Sport.

"I've been getting financial support from them over the past few years which has definitely helped," he said.

"That's allowed me to maintain a part-time job, which has allowed me to train more and also bring up a young family as well."

While Glasgow is looming large, the 30-year-old is keen to push on with an eye on the 2016 Rio Olympics and especially the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast where he'll be a home-town hero.