Queensland to Tokyo - Brandon Wakeling

Queensland to Tokyo - Brandon Wakeling

With the recent world events, the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games has been postponed exactly one year, and will now be celebrated 23 July 2021 – 8 August 2021.

In the coming weeks, we will introduce Queensland's Olympic hopefuls... working towards making their dreams of representing our sport on the biggest stage of all, come true.

Since holding the Sydney 2000 Olympic torch in his hands at the tender age of 6, Cougars Weightlifting Club athlete Brandon Wakeling knew he wanted to represent Australia at the Olympic Games.

Fast forward to today and that dream is firmly in his sights...

I started lifting at the end of 2015 at the age of 21, with my first competition being less than a month into starting to learn the sport on Halloween that year. I had no prior experience with the snatch and clean and jerk as I had just finished the season of my 15th year of playing rugby league. Along side playing rugby league, I was a commercial gym enthusiast and found myself in the gym every day of the week, sometimes twice daily. The gym was initially something I dedicated myself too from the age of 17 to help gain some body mass to assist with my rugby league performance but found myself falling in love with the process of resistance training at the gym.

As time went on and I entered my 20’s, I found myself putting more effort into the gym and less into football. One day at the gym I got word that a ‘Weightlifting Club’ was doing free Monday night sessions and blindly followed a friend to give this ‘Olympic weightlifting’ thing a try to add some variety to my training. That’s where my journey into the sport begun.

Going into 2016 I decided to stop playing rugby league and give this sport a try for the year, entering in 12 competitions that year and really enjoying the experience and progress I gained in just a year. At the end of 2016 I graduated university and instead of entering the workforce, I decided to take a big risk at dedicating all my time and effort to try make the 2018 Commonwealth Games team. After a long and arduous year, that risk paid off as I had made the team and still to this day am pursuing weightlifting whole heartedly. This time around with the goal of making the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

How are you involved with developing the sport of weightlifting in Queensland?

On a weekly basis, I coach the junior lifters at Burleigh Barbell Club, where I coach those that are eight years and older. Although I don’t feel I consider myself someone who has ‘seen and done it all’ in the sport, but I understand that someone who has had many unique experiences in the sport at an elite level like I have hold some form of value that is important to help develop the sport. Especially at the grass roots level, I feel we have a big future with our young up and coming lifters and I feel its important I share my experience and help develop the sport where I can.

How have your training priorities changed in the lead up to Tokyo 2020?

The lead up to this event started way back at the end of 2018 World Championships in November that year and has been a very congested lead up with several international competitions between then and now. As the qualification period progressed, I realised the importance of looking after your body and staying healthy, which can become increasingly difficult with the amount of pressure filled Olympic qualifying events that were scheduled. I am still going strong and hope to perform at the best of my ability at the last Olympic qualifying event being the Oceania Championships at the end if April in Nauru.

Who are your supporters and sponsors who have helped on your Olympic Games journey?

Alongside my coach Miles Wydall, health specialists, work, partner, family and friends, I was lucky enough to have Again Faster jump on board and partner with me for the lead up to the Olympic Games. In an effort for myself to give the best chance to train and be at my best, I have an Again Faster branded garage gym set up that I find myself in regularly when I’m not training around my coach. I’m very grateful to have those who have supported me throughout my journey and that deserve all the credit for when I hopefully have my name listed on the Olympic team this year.

Tell us about your life outside the gym, and your involvement with Deadly Choices

I started to work with Deadly Choices as an ambassador after the 2018 Commonwealth Games. At Deadly Choices we aim to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to make healthy choices for themselves and their family. This includes helping those in need to stop smoking, promoting healthy eating and exercise habits and encouraging the community to access their local Community Controlled Health Service and complete their annual ‘health check’. This is all done through a variety of avenues including tobacco cessation, education and cooking programs, sport and recreation, community events, leadership camps and a variety of programs with our younger and elderly indigenous population.

As someone with indigenous roots, I feel it's important to connect with community and share my experiences and share how making healthy life choices has positively influenced my life, not only just in the realm of sporting achievements, but in all aspects. Also, the ability to expand our horizons and show the indigenous community that we can excel in other avenues such as Olympic Weightlifting I feel is important. We have had only one indigenous Olympian represent the sport at that level before (Anthony Martin, 2000 Sydney Olympics) and I hope to be the second.

What would it mean to you to make the 2020 Australian Olympic Team?

The Olympic Games is something I have wanted to be a part of ever since I can remember. Alongside rugby league, I also enjoyed athletics from a very young age and wanted to represent Australia at the Olympics in the long jump. This dream was something so dear to me that back when I was six years old, I had my parent dig a long jump pit into the backyard to practice. As time went on and I slowly grew away from that childhood dream, I somehow found myself revitalising that dream many years later, but with Olympic Weightlifting.


As of March 2020, Brandon is in the top spot for Continental – Oceania in both the M73 and M81 categories. Source Weightlifting House.

The Tokyo Summer Olympic Games will now be held 23 July 2021 – 8 August 2021.



Published on 6 Apr 20 - 16:24