"Being strong felt good": Q&A with Danica Hampton September 2018

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Danica Hampton, former head of investment specialists at Citi, is on a "sporting sabbatical" from financial services to concentrate on her other career... as a competitive weightlifter! Having always been a fitness buff, she tells Industry Moves what drew her to weightlifting two years ago, of the support from her colleagues, and of her plans for competing on the international stage.

When did you start weightlifting and what drew you initially to the sport?

Fitness has always been a large part of my life. After spending much of my twenties running and cycling, my focus changed towards building strength about 5 years ago. Being strong felt good, but I wanted to take it to the next level by competing. I didn’t know much about weightlifting, but in 2016, I went to an olympic weightlifting gym for the first time. I just loved everything about it. Weightlifting requires an extraordinary combination of strength, speed, mobility and technical discipline. And, it is just really fun to throw heavy weights around.

What does a normal day look like when you are training for a competition?

Monday, Wednesday and Friday I train twice a day for 2-3 hours at a time. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday just one training session. But the rest of those days is taken up with recovery activities, such as massage and sauna. Sunday is a day of relaxation and spending time with my husband. All this is interspersed with a lot of washing and drying of sports clothes!

"Weightlifting requires an extraordinary combination of strength, speed, mobility and technical discipline. And, it is just really fun to throw heavy weights around."

Is there crossover for what is required mentally for both your sporting and financial services careers?

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Tenacity is important in both. How you deal with failure or things not going exactly to plan shapes your career. You must learn from those challenges, but retain the optimism and confidence to try again tomorrow. In weightlifting, you try to be a little better every day, but progress is never linear. This has direct correlations to finance, whether you are managing a portfolio or pitching services to clients. For both, you need to develop strong foundational skills. Results often don’t come immediately, but you need to have faith that with hard work the payoff will come.

What are your plans for the next 12 months?

In early December, I’ll compete in the NZ National Masters in Wellington. This will be very special for me as it will be my first time competing in my home country. Over the next 12 months, my goal is to snatch 100kg. This should enable me to be competitive on the international stage.

"What really surprised me was how other people seemed inspired by what I was doing, some even bringing along their daughters to meet me."

What has been the response of your work colleagues?

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My colleagues at Citi were beyond supportive. My last manager, David Zammit was incredible. When I tentatively raised the idea with him, he was focused on helping me make the right decisions on how to be a better athlete, rather than on the near-term interests of the organisation. What really surprised me was how other people seemed inspired by what I was doing, some even bringing along their daughters to meet me.

Can you name some career highlights?

In terms of results, winning and then defending my Australian and Oceania Masters titles have been key highlights. However, putting on the NZ uniform for the first time at the Masters World Championships in Spain was incredibly special.

What/who inspired your interest in weightlifting?

Undeniably, the Russians and the Chinese are the best weightlifters in the world. In particular, Tatiana Kashirina - the world’s strongest weightlifting woman - is hugely inspirational. She is strong, she’s fast and her technique is flawless.

Where did you grow up and what was it like?

I grew up in the south of New Zealand in a place called Dunedin. I spent most of my childhood riding horses and aspired to be part of the NZ 3-day eventing team, but that dream was rudely cut short by a riding accident in 1999. So I went back to university and got a “real” job in financial services.

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