Clarke raises the bar
KILO by kilo, step by step - that is Jason Clarke's mantra as he pursues his powerlifting dreams.
The Lismore Heights-based competitor is currently preparing for two tournaments which could further enhance his position as one of Australia's most renowned competitors in the sport.
Good performances in next month's tournament at the Gold Coast and the prestigious Brisbane Cup later in the year could propel the 38-year-old closer to his aim of representing Australia at future Commonwealth and Oceania tournaments.
Clarke, who is already among the country's leading lifters in his section, is taking a methodical approach to success.
"To get the opportunity to compete for Australia - especially at my age - would be pretty special," he said.
"It really is about stepping stones to the bigger tournaments.
"I need to keep making these improvements."
Clarke is coming off the back of a successful 2012 during which he cemented his position as one of the top three lifters in Australia in his division.
His achievements include a conclusive win in the 93kg class at the Matti Tikka Challenge in Brisbane.
During competition contestants tested their strength in three categories; squat, bench and dead lift.
Clarke achieved top scores in the dead lift and squat sections, 280kg and 250kg respectively, and racked up the best overall score to take out the division.
He must now improve each of his lifts by about five kilograms to get closer to Australian records and enhance his status.
Clarke, who narrowly missed out on achieving an Australian record in the dead-lift section at the Challenge, said he was hoping for further improvements.
"It is a nice feeling to be in the top three," he said.
"I am really looking forward to possibly being one or two by the end of the year.
"I need an extra 15 kilos, so I need to put an extra five kilos on each of my lifts.
"Hopefully I can do it."
Clarke, who took up lifting weights as a teenager while playing football, is also helping nurture other powerlifting hopefuls through his position as an instructor at the Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre.
"It is a lifestyle thing for me," he said.
"I have grown up with (lifting).
"There are a few guys (in Lismore) lifting now and I am enjoying helping them.
"I just really like teaching people and helping them reach their goals."