Australia’s champion weightlifter Deborah Acason shares her hopes for her fourth Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this year and beyond
Fifteen years of experience including two Olympics, two world championships and three Commonwealth Games will give Australian Weightlifting's first female Hall of Fame entrant and new mum an edge leading into the Commonwealth Games this July.
Currently ranked fifth in the Commonwealth, Deborah Acason took out the 2012 Olympic trials just nine months after a traumatic two-day birth and resuscitation of first child, Eva, but admitted in April that she is still not at her "pre-baby best."
Just as she did in this "life changing" birth, Deborah says she will "give it everything" on game day even though she is an outside chance for another Commonwealth medal.
"My legs are as strong as they have ever been," Deborah shares. "I am training so much smarter...with a precise number of reps at certain percentages on particular days."
As she pushes herself mentally and emotionally in training, Deborah says she looks forward to lifting before thousands of people and experiencing "the rush of adrenaline of competition, fighting for a medal."
At the 2002 Commonwealth Games she amassed three silver medals, followed by a gold medal in 2006 after lifting 115kg in the clean-and-jerk for the 75kg weight class and came away with bronze at the 2010 Games.
For these Commonwealth Games, she says that "anything close to 113kg snatch and 140kg clean and jerk will be fantastic", but adds that weightlifting success is not her first, second or even third priority.
"When my husband Josh and I started praying for a baby I was very determined that I would always keep my priorities as they should be: God, Josh, Eva, others and then myself and my sport," she explains.
“When I [get a lift] it feels like everything in my life comes together perfectly”Her priorities are clear but Deborah says she feels more love and passion for the sport than ever before, believing that her talent comes from God and should be used to honour Him.
She remembers being inspired to see things this way at age 11, after watching a Christian strong man show called the 'Power Team'.
"These massive guys would tear car number plates and phone books in half, pick up trees, crack ice with their heads and elbows, among other things," she explains.
"I so enjoyed being there, and was impressed by the way they talked about God and how I could have a personal relationship with Him through the Lord Jesus Christ. I asked Jesus to be in my life as my Lord and Saviour that night."
Through high school Deborah says she found herself constantly recommitting her life to God, feeling like when she made mistakes she needed to "become a Christian again".
Then, after reading more of the Bible, she began to understand that Jesus had died for her past, present and future sins and all she needed to do was trust in Him.
"As a teenager I knew I had to choose what sort of a Christian life I was going to lead," she adds.
"I did not want to be seen as a hypocrite in saying I am a Christian but living differently during the week. God is always here, He is always watching and He knows our heart's motivation."
Now a high profile athlete, Deborah's need for a personal relationship with God is just the same.
"I guess I have proved that you can achieve high success and be a Christian, knowing that my life is not about medals, records, and the Olympic Games," she explains.
"In a sporting career things don't often go your way as you may have a bad competition, or injury or something like that. It is good to know that once my sport is gone; if I had no money and no family, if everything was taken from me, then I would still trust in God for everything I need."
On Deborah's website, LovelyDeb.com, she references one of her favourite Bible verses, Matthew Chapter 6, verse 33, which says, "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously [right with God], and He will give you everything you need."
No matter what her result is from the coming Games, Deborah believes God is pleased to watch her compete and do her best for Him.
"When I stand there on the platform after getting that lift in a split second of aggression with that weight over my head, usually screaming at the crowd, it feels like everything that I've been working for in my life, in my faith and in my sport, all comes together perfectly," she explains.
"It almost feels like God's blessing, that He's letting me achieve this weight, this time. It's just such a magical moment."
Apart from the Commonwealth Games, Deborah hopes to also compete in her third World Championships in November and will continue to train other young hopefuls at her weightlifting club in western Queensland.
"I'm looking forward to maybe one day coaching a junior weightlifting team with some little Acasons competing...if they want to. Eva already does squats and can lift the 15kg bar – same as her body weight!"
"I hope to be involved in weightlifting in some way for the rest of my life. I believe God puts us all in very different walks of life all over the world to do His work. Mine is weightlifting."