“Then there was rocks in the garden when I was nine or ten. I’d pick up the heaviest rocks I could find and move them around the place … Entirely off my own bat. Nothing inspired me to do it. That’s just how I felt,” Harvey tells The Weightlifting Platform.
Eventually, that natural fascination with feats of strength led Harvey to weightlifting. Throughout his storied career, Harvey notched up two Olympic Games, two Commonwealth Games, five World Champs and a host of other major international events.
Leading into the 1990 Commonwealth Games, Harvey was the favourite to win. But then, only three days out from the event, he got hit by a double whammy: a wrist injury and a nasty bout of gastro. “I … dropped about 4 kilos in two days,” he says.
Needless to say, Harvey wasn’t able to lift at his best on the day. But this setback just made Harvey hungrier. He was determined to return healthier and stronger than ever come the 1994 games.
And come back strong he did! The ‘94 Commonwealth Games were the scene of Harvey’s most dominant performance in his career.
Harvey saw the start list well before game day. There were 12 lifters on that list with Harvey sitting right at the top. After weigh-in, he went back to his hotel room to eat and rehydrate. Upon his return to the venue “I looked up on the board and it said, Harvey Goodman, Peter May, and another guy from Kenya.” With only three out of 12 names up, Harvey was confused.
The answer soon became clear. The week prior, Harvey had power snatched 160kg and cleaned 207kg in front of nearly every one of his competitors.
“Nine out of my 11 competitors had moved up a weight category because they thought they had a better chance of beating the guy above me,” Harvey explains.
Because there were only three competitors left in the 91kg weight category, the organisers announced that they wouldn’t give out silver or bronze medals. “I didn’t care,” says Harvey. “I only came there for gold. I didn’t want any other colour.”
But the other two lifters protested. They weren’t going to compete if silver and bronze weren’t awarded. Most likely because they knew Harvey had already locked up gold. The IWF relented and decided to hand out all three medals. As his competitors feared he would, Harvey stormed onto the top spot of the podium by a hefty 17.5kg margin. He snatched 162.5kg and clean & jerked 201kg to bring home three gold medals and a Commonwealth record.
The next category up (the 99kg weight class) ended up having about 20 lifters in it, which Andy Callard won with the same total that took silver in Harvey’s 91kg weight class. Harvey was such a force that he would have won in the next weight category up as well!
Harvey puts a lot of his success down to the training environment he was exposed to growing up and while competing. “In 1991 Paul Coffa lured five international weightlifters to Australia to become residents and get paid to lift in Australia,” Harvey told TWP.
These international weightlifters weren’t just any old joes but legends like Blagoi Blagoev (Silver medalist at the 1980 Olympics), Nicu Vlad (three-time Olympic medallist), Sevdalin Marinov (1988 Olympic Gold), Kiril Kounev (1988 World Champion) and Stefan Botev (two-time Olympic medallist).
“All of a sudden me, Damian, and Steven Kettner and the guys I trained with went from the top 3 or 4 lifters at Hawthorn to all of a sudden 8th.” With this type of competition day in and day out in Harvey’s training, motivating him to be better, there was no way he couldn’t answer the call.
For the full video Harvey at the 1994 Commonwealth Games click here
Also check out a great podcast Raw Barbell did with Harvey recently.