Glasgow 2014: Meet power couple Jack Oliver and Sarah Davies

By David McDaidBBC Sport
Sarah Davies is going for gold in Glasgow
Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games
Dates: 23 July - 3 August Coverage: Live on BBC TV, HD, BBC Radio 5 live, Red Button, Connected TVs, online, tablets and mobiles

He is a connoisseur of the Classics. She is a former beauty queen.

Whatever preconceived ideas you may have of weightlifters, Jack Oliver and Sarah Davies are ready to blow them all away.

Yes, most days you'll find them in the gym. Yes, they wear all-in-one leotards. And yes, they lift hundreds of kilograms in each training session in order to hopefully realise their dream of winning medals for England at the Commonwealth Games.

But you're also just as likely to find Davies on a glossy photo shoot, or Oliver with his nose buried in the works of Plato, Aristotle, and his personal favourite, Herodotus.

English weightlifter Jack Oliver
Jack Oliver finished 10th for Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics

"I've read him in English and Ancient Greek," the London 2012 Olympian tells me, as if it's nothing especially impressive.

"He talks a lot about the Persian Wars, about 'soft' people and 'hard' people, and how the Greeks won those wars because they were 'harder' with fewer luxuries in their lives.

"I try to put that into practice in weightlifting. You don't need all the best equipment or kit - no fanciness. You just need to work hard and that's where the results will come from."

Oliver wants to "show people what he can do and put things right" in the 77kg category, after going into the Delhi Games four years ago with injury problems which prevented him from fulfilling his potential.

Despite still only being 23, it could well be his best chance to shine as, post-Glasgow, he will no longer receive a funding grant. That means he will have to juggle training with an as-yet-unfound full-time job.

But while Oliver shuns glamour in favour of graft, girlfriend Davies manages to find room for both.

The 21-year-old only lifted her first weights when Oliver encouraged her to do so when she was bored watching him train.

Less than three years on, she is one of the group of women whose results have helped British Weightlifting secure some restored funding from UK Sport.

Sarah Davies
'It's nice to inspire young girls and show them that if you go to the gym you don't always end up with big muscles like a bodybuilder'

It's fair to say there are many sides to Davies - the gymnast, the county-level golfer, the Latin dancer and the beauty queen.

In 2012, she entered the Miss Leeds pageant, as she put it, "as a bit of fun, to get out of the gym kit, and to feel like a girl again".

She duly won.

"It's nice to inspire young girls and show them that if you go to the gym you don't always end up with big muscles like a bodybuilder - but it gets you in great shape," she says.

"I applied for a job as a PE teacher recently and they obviously read 'weightlifter' in my CV.

"They were all laughing because they never expected me to turn up looking like I did."

Davies admits she is still not finished with the pageants, and that as "a Lancashire girl at heart" she may one day try for a crown in her home county.

But for now she is much more concerned with collecting medals than tiaras - starting in Glasgow.

"I always dreamt as a child of going to the Commonwealth Games - but as a gymnast. I never expected in a million years it would be for weightlifting.

Glasgow 2014: Guide to weightlifting at the Commonwealth Games

"When I first tried it, the lifts weren't pretty. But I was all right at it and took it from there.

"There's no point in saying, 'I've qualified for the Games' and that's it. I want a medal. There's no point in going if you're not going for glory."

So what is it like living and training together?

"It's good to have that support of someone who understands the sport, knows the training schedule, and what I have to do to make weight, says Davies," who competes at 63kg. "Although Jack always maintains I never need to try to make weight.

"This is my first multi-sport event - my only other international was the European Championships at the start of the year.

"Jack's got the experience of the Olympics, so it'll be nice to have a helping hand when I'm bricking it in the village!"

Oliver also notices the benefits of being one half of a weightlifting couple.

"I never expected Sarah to get this far, but she's progressed a lot quicker than I did.

"When I see how strong she's getting so quickly it makes me train harder.

"It's really good to have a training partner you can get along with so well."