Queenslanders Shine at 2014 Oceania Championships

2014 Oceania Senior, Junior and Youth Championships
(Continental Olympic Youth Qualification Event)
Mont Dore - New Caledonia 25 – 31 May, 2014

The Australian team arrived in the very early hours of the morning to the idyllic location of Noumea, New Caledonia for the Oceania weightlifting Championships. The competition was held at the Oceania Weightlifting institute that’s run by Paul & Lilly Coffa and was a wonderful venue to host the championships. The championships were the last qualifying event for a few countries Commonwealth Games team hopefuls and also the Youth Olympic Games qualifier, so the competition was going to be intense. 

A large number of Queenslanders were included in the Australian contingent that went over to New Caledonia with a total of 14 athletes, 7 coaches and 1 IT support person and the results of the team were tremendous. Three Queensland athletes made their international debut at this event –Maddie Wu, Leo Lark and Harrison Gaffney.

After a few days settling in to the beach front views, tropical island climate and learning a few words of French, the competition began with the women’s 44/48kg category session. We got off to a great start with Robin Parr securing our first two medals taking home the silver in the youth and the bronze in the junior women’s competition. Next up was the men’s 50/56kg category session where Harrison Gaffney made his international debut snatching 58kgs and clean & jerking 77kgs for a total of 135, finishing him in 6th spot. A very tidy performance for his first time lifting at a big international competition.

Next was the 53/58kgs session which had 3 Queensland lifters in it with Tegan Napper in the senior 53’s, Erika Ropati-Frost in the senior 58’s and Maddie Wu making her international debut in both the youth and junior 58’s. Maddi added to the medal tally by winning our first two gold’s in both the youth and the juniors. An outstanding achievement for her first international performance. Tegan Napper was successful with 6/6 lifts and a personal best with a 160kg total which was enough to secure a bronze early on in the senior 53’s. This was one of the highlight sessions of the week with a strong battle going on between Erika and fellow AUS lifter Socheata Be, both in the 58s. Both were successful with all three snatches however Socheata had a 1kg lead over Erika going into the clean and jerk. In the end, it came down to Erika needing a personal best lift to beat Socheata and she managed to do this with a huge 99kg clean and jerk, winning the silver medal with a personal best total of 176kgs.

The final session of the day was the 62kg men which brought out another QLD lifter Josh Wu. Josh had an uneven lead up into this competition due to injury, but he pulled out a great performance to take home the junior bronze medal with a total of 198kgs.

Day two of the competition saw six more Queenslanders compete. First up was the 63kg women’s session in which Haley Ward was competing as both a youth and a junior. Hayley secured a bronze medal in the youth with a personal best 114kg total. Next up was the 69kg men’s session which included seasoned junior athlete James Norman. James lifted a personal best snatch of 96kg and finished with a 218kg total which finished him in 4th, narrowly missing out on bronze.

The next session was the women’s 69kg category. This had Queenslander Michelle Kahi. This was Michelle’s first international competition since taking a few years off from the sport and she made a great return by winning the silver medal in the juniors with a 174kg total. It was also good to see New Zealand Representative Andrea Miller lifting well in this session. Andrea trains at the Cougars club in Queensland and she achieved New PB’s and broke a New Zealand record on the day.

The final session of the day was the men’s 77kg category which also had two Queenslanders, Jake Radcliffe and Leo Lark competing in both the junior and senior men’s. This was Leo’s international debut and also only his third ever weightlifting competition. Jake is another lifter who was making a return to international competition after sitting out for a number of years. Jake and Leo battled it out for an equal 230kg total and Leo winning the silver, beating Jake on body weight. Jake finished 3rd in the junior men and 8th in the senior men with a 230kg total.

Day three of the competition had just two Queenslanders, Jake Daniels and Shane Wagner. Jake was up first in the 85kg session competing in both the junior and the senior men’s. Jake finished in 3rd place in the juniors and 5th in the seniors with a personal best snatch, clean and jerk and total of253kg. Shane was the last Queenslander of the day and finished it off with a gold medal in the junior men’s with a personal best snatch of 107kg and 238kg total.

The final day of competition saw dual Olympian 75kg+ lifter Deborah Acason take to the platform. Deb put in a great performance and managed a silver medal with a 237 total.

Notably absent from the Championships were Damon Kelly and Robert Galsworthy, who opted out of the Australian Team on this occasion to ensure a full recovery from minor injuries, as they prepare for the Commonwealth Games in 8 weeks’ time.

At this year’s Oceania Championships, Queensland lifters contributed 14 medals to the Australian Team’s tally. Well done to all athletes and coaches.

Published on 19 Jun 14 - 16:19