Teen raising the bar
SUNSHINE Coast weightlifting coach Barry Harden says a strong work ethic has teenager Jacob Daniels steeled for the big stage.
The 17-year-old from Kiamba has been touted as a future star of the sport in Australia after claiming top spot at the Oceania Youth Championships in Samoa, where he also snared second place in the Commonwealth Youth Championships.
And it's the youngster's willingness to push himself which has coach Harden singing his praises.
"Yes, he does have talent but he's also a very hard worker and he's very dedicated," he said.
"One of the things I find with kids these days is that they come into the gyms and you have to do a lot more work with them compared to 15-10 years ago, when more lifters came from farming backgrounds.
"But Jake, he had a good work ethic to start with, helping his dad (at an earthmoving business)."
Harden has seen a host of hot prospects come through the junior ranks but fail to make it at a senior level.
But he believes Daniels has the mindset to make his mark in the sport.
"What probably makes him a bit different to other kids is that I doubt life pressures will distract him," he said.
"It happens to a lot of others. They get girlfriends or life just gets in their way. But I don't think that will happen with Jake because he's very focused on this and he's probably more inclined to get a working class or physical job than to go to university.
"His transition from school, which is where we lose a lot of them, will probably be a little smoother for him because I think he's committed to the sport."
And Daniels, who impressed in Samoa with an effort of 201kg (90kg snatch and 111kg clean and jerk), is keen to go all the way after becoming attached to the unique discipline.
"I had a mate in grade nine who was just mucking around at the club and he asked if I wanted to come down, so I said why not. Barry has since trained me for two-and-a-half years now and I want to get to the Olympics ... anybody would," he said.
While Eastern European nations traditionally dominate the sport on the world scene, Harden believes the Nambour Christian College student could make an impact at the Commonwealth Games.
"I was only just discussing this a couple of days ago with other coaches and that was one of the things that did come up," he said.
"The Commonwealth Games is probably something that is a realistic goal for Jacob," Harden added.
Daniels will attempt to qualify for the World Youth Championships in Slovakia in September, when it's hoped he could capture a top 10- result.