8 Things to know about Clara O’Connor

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Clara 16kg image 2

Clara O’Conner is one of our favourite homegirls in Ketttlebell Sport.  Why, you ask?  Because she is not only a great role model for aspiring lifters, a lovely person on and off the platform, but also a mom (like so many of us on the ICKB team) who understands the daily grind!  In addition to her daughter, Clara has also consistently made Ireland proud at the European and World Championships.

 1.   My favourite thing about kettlebell sport is that it is a constant process of self improvement. It really is all about the journey.  If you have a competition coming up, you set a goal for that competition and you work hard during the weeks coming up to it to achieve that goal. If you reach your goal on competition day you feel a great sense of achievement that your hard work paid off and you got the result you wanted. If you don’t achieve your goal you go back to the gym and figure out what you need to do to improve and start working on that so that you can reach your goal next time.

2.   I don’t have a particular favourite song to snatch to but I like to make up playlists with new music regularly, I listen to all sorts! Hip hop, R&B, rock, dance, everything!

3.   The most exciting thing to me about the growth of kb sport is the amount of competitors now in each category. In Ireland the sport has grown massively in the last few years and now at every competition there are 100+ lifters. At IUKL World Championships in Hamburg in November 2014 there were approx 300 competitors. At IUKL World Championships in November there were 22 women in the 68+kg Amateur Snatch category! I was lucky enough to secure a spot on the Irish Womens Professional Team for 2015 in February at AIKLF Irish National Championships but my numbers are not where they need to be to compete with the best in the world at international level yet. For the next few months I will be working mostly with the 20kg and 22kg, working on increasing the pace, increasing numbers over 10 mins, to try to improve my physical & grip endurance for the 24kg.

Clara 20kg image

It will mean that I will miss out on competing for Ireland at IUKL European Championships in July this year in Bulgaria (there is no 20kg option at IUKL European or World Championships unfortunately) so I plan to travel to the OKSE English Cup in Darlington in July to compete with 20kg instead . We have the AIKLF Cup of Ireland here in Wexford in August and after that it will be back to 24kg snatch training for IUKL Worlds in November. I am hoping that putting in the extra ground work will help me to get a better result at professional level at this years IUKL World Championships in Dublin in November. I also hope that Long Cycle for women will soon become officially introduced and recognised at IUKL European & World Championships.

4.   I think kettlebell sport is best described as endurance weight lifting, so rather than lifting the heaviest weight you can once, you lift anything from 8kg to 24kg for women or 2 x 16kg up to 2 x 32kg for men as many times as you can in 10 mins. I keep it simple, if people ask more questions I’m happy to go into more detail & talk for hours about the sport!

Clara 20kg image 3

5.   I train kb sport 3 days per week Monday, Wednesday and Friday(or Saturday some weeks). Each session takes around an hour and a half consisting of warm up, main sets, assistance work, cooldown & stretch. I also try to get out on my bike 1-2 times per week for about an hour.

6.   I tend to eat healthy most of the time but a treat would be a really good burger!

7.   When I started out in the sport my daughter was only 6 months old & I did classes for the first few months to get back in shape. I knew getting involved in the sport would require a lot of dedication and commitment & I doubted whether I would be able to give it the time and energy that was necessary. I didn’t know any of the other women in the club at that stage. I came across the ICKB girls You Tube channel and saw that these ladies were ordinary women like myself who have jobs and kids and still manage to train and compete at the level they do. I thought to myself if they can make it work, maybe I can too. My daughter is 4 now and I’m still going strong! Most of my team mates at Wexford Kettlebell Club have kids and jobs, its not always easy to dedicate the time & energy to train and travel to compete but we all make it work. I love all of the Kettleguard gear.

Clara world champs image

The t-shirts are the perfect length, material and fit for training, the wrist guards themselves are the best on the market, the shorts and headbands are of the highest quality so I was really honoured to be chosen to be one of their sponsored athletes and wear this top quality gear. Kettleguard have been really supportive of my journey so far and I am really looking forward to meeting all of the team again in November in Dublin for IUKL World Championships 2015.

8.  What inspires me most in life are the people who choose to shine even after all the storms they have been through.