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Weightlifting wrap: Lifting high performance to next level

30 August 2016

WEIGHTLIFTING: The Australian Weightlifting Federation is committed to raising the placings of its athletes at major international competitions through a greater focus on high performance.

At the Rio Olympics 2016 Australia fielded two competitors – Tia-Clair Toomey and Simplice Ribouem – who both achieved a top 14 finish.

The appointment of 10-time Australian champion Jacquie White as high performance coordinator of the AWF in 2015 will continue to pay dividends into the future, with a greater focus on supporting athletes to compete at a world-class level.

Upon her appointment, the 2007 World Cup bronze medallist said Australia had a lot of talented athletes, hence the need to “create a high performance system that will support them”.

Australia’s performance in weightlifting in Rio was solid, but with room for growth.

“Top 16 was our goal as a sport,” weightlifting coach and Rio 2016 team leader Miles Wydall said.

“We need to continue to grow the sport Australia and have more focus on high performance, which we are now doing with the appointment of Jacquie.”

Ribouem finished 13th in the men’s 94kg category after starting especially well by equalling his personal best in the snatch of 155kg.

It was a long road to Rio for Ribouem. The Cameroon-born athlete sought asylum in Australia following the 2006 Commonwealth Games and has been working toward his Olympic dream ever since.

Claiming gold at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and silver four years later in Glasgow, Ribouem really drew attention at the Australian Open last December when he lifted a total 351kg (155 snatch, 196 clean and jerk) – his standing personal best in the 94kg weight class.

This too after tragedy struck earlier in 2015 when Ribouem contracted malaria on a short visit home to Cameroon, and then knee injury followed earlier this year. Still his outstanding form in December and determination pushed him to remain focussed coming in to the Rio Olympics.

“(The snatch) looked like a near limit weight when he did it and it was a great achievement at his first Olympics,” Wydall said.

“It was the weight suggested by his coach as his final lift from a tactical point of view.”

Toomey also attempted a PB of 112kg in the clean and jerk, however she unfortunately was unable to complete the lift.

In the 58g class Toomey finished 14th, lifting a total 189kg – 82kg in the snatch and 107kg in the clean and jerk.

Less than a month prior to coming to Brazil, Toomey competed at the CrossFit World Games in the United States where she placed second, repeating her performance from 2015.

Branded as the ultimate test of fitness and incorporating some weightlifting manoeuvres, preparing for the highest level international crossfit tournament and the Olympics simultaneously was all in a day’s work for Toomey.

Always determined to achieve her best, Toomey was disappointed not to succeed in her lift plan however said she gave her all on the day.

“That’s lifting at near limit weights,” Wydall said.

“Errors are more likely to occur. Lifting is a sport of centimetres.”

As for Tokyo 2020, Wydall said Australia would field the most competitive athletes in the ranks at the time, adding that the men’s divisions in particular were very hard to predict four years out.

“Remember Tia was not even lifting in 2012, but (in the women’s field) you have to think that Tia and Kiana Elliott would be in the mix.”

Candice Keller
olympics.com.au

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