string(7) "bristol"

Record-breaking Bristol student to compete at Commonwealth Championships

Imagine making time for an intensive weightlifting regime whilst studying for a medicine degree…


A University of Bristol student has been picked to represent England in weightlifting at the Commonwealth Championships in Delhi this summer. Jonathan Chin, 29, only started weightlifting seven years ago and has already won four consecutive English Championships and one British Championship.

He broke two British records at the European Weightlifting Championships last month, with a 168kg clean & jerk (which involves bringing the bar to the chest, before pushing it above your head) and snatching 129kg (bringing the bar from the floor to above the head in one swift movement).

Somehow Jonathan finds the time to train five times a week, all whilst studying for a medicine degree, and is even eyeing up a place at the Commonwealth Games in Australia in three years’ time.

Credit: Hook Grip

Hard training sessions can leave him feeling like he’s been “hit by a bus” and he’s even been left “seeing stars” after dropping the bar on his head. That’s how I feel after a week of seminars, let alone weightlifting as well!

Training around his medicine degree makes life “non-stop”, said Jon, who lives in Bristol and is currently on a hospital placement in Bath. “As soon as clinic or lectures are over, I go straight to the gym and then go home to revise. I do have to sacrifice social engagements, particularly around competitions,” he said. 

“I can still drink beer and eat pizza, but I have to be careful. I feel very fortunate to be in this position and I don’t know how long I can compete at this level. In a few years’ time, I’ll resume normal life and I’ll do more normal people things.

Jonathan and his brother

“Right now, though, I don’t think I’m anywhere near my peak. I feel like I’m only getting better and better, and that’s exciting.”

Jonathan is a (relatively) late bloomer when it comes to lifting, only discovering the sport at 22 after sustaining a double hamstring tear from sprinting – his first sporting love.

“With sprinting, you’ve got six or seven guys next to you. But with weightlifting you are on your own, with the light shining down on you, and every person in the room looking at you – I found that more nerve-wracking.

“When you get the lifts right, the bar just floats up, it feels effortless. I’m quite meticulous so I love mastering the three movements: the clean, jerk and snatch.”

Jonathan graduates from the University of Bristol next year and is looking to specialise in ophthalmology (the treatment of eyes), and has even won awards for his research reports.

If you want to tune in, the championships are taking place in July on these dates:

  • 11 July 2023 – Arrival of Teams and Delegates
  • 12 July 2023 – CWF Congress and Technical Meeting
  • 13 July 2023 – Competition
  • 14 July 2023 – Competition
  • 15 July 2023 – Competition
  • 16 July 2023 – Competition
  • 17 July 2023 – Departure of Teams and Delegates

Who knows… could we be seeing some Olympic Gold soon?

Related stories recommended by this writer:

• Bristol University offers students £18.85 to mark first and second year exams

• Bristol University open day severely disrupted by UCU and UNISON protests