The last quarter of the year is always hectic for weightlifting in Queensland with competitions almost every weekend. This has included The Queensland All Schools, the Mike Keelan Shield (Cougars Weightlifting Club’s end of year competition) and the Australian Open.
One of the stand out performers at these events was Saphire Abraham. The talented 14 year old, who is only in her first 6 months of lifting, set Australian under 15 records in the snatch, CJ and total at the All Schools Championships, then broke them all again at the Mike Keelan Shield.
Fellow squad member and 75+kg lifter Mackenzie Coglan-Rochfort applied some pressure to Saphire with a few PBs and National Record attempts along the way, but Saphire came out ahead in the end.
The Australian Open saw Michelle Kahi lift lifetime personal bests of 82 snatch, 103 CJ and a 185 total in the 75 category. I was particularly pleased to see this result for Michelle as she has been lifting for over 10 years, but evidently still has more to come.
New competitor Andrew Kelly took bronze and came close to silver in the 105s at just his third competition. Experienced lifter Melissa Robinson took gold in the 63s.
In November I was in the role of head coach for the Australian Team at the World Championships in Houston, Texas. There were several good things about this team including some new talented athletes and the high number of successful and personal best lifts from Australian athletes.
The team came from around Australia :
Erika Ropati-Frost QLD – 53
Tia Clair Toomey QLD – 58
Jessica Lai – WA – 63
Pip Malone – NSW – 63
Kiana Elliott – NSW – 69
Camilla Fogagnolo – TAS – 75
Jenna Myers – TAS – 75+
Officials : Angela Wydall, Miles Wydall, Lyn Jones (Team Manager)
The performance closest to my heart was that of Erika Ropati-Frost since I coach her on a day to day basis at Cougars Weightlifting Club. Erika snatched 3/3 and an Australian record of 83kg. On the CJ she finished on 98, after missing the jerk on 102 twice. This was a surprising result as her training leading into World Champs indicated her CJ was going better than her snatch. Erika’s performance at the worlds still placed her in the lead for Olympic selection for Rio.
I also appreciated the performance of Jessica Lai. Jessica was previously one of my own squad athletes at Cougars Weightlifting Club who moved to Perth about a year ago. Since then Brendan Kennedy of Grizzly’s Weightlifting Club had been doing a good job coaching her. Jess snatched 86 and CJd 98 – weights she had only previously lifted in competition as a 69.
The performance of Tia-Clair Toomey also deserves mention. Tia is normally coached by my husband Miles Wydall. Tia is still fairly new to weightlifting and surprised a few people with her strength in Houston when she came close with 85 snatch and 112 clean and jerk. Definitely one of Australian Weightlifting’s greatest hopes for the future.
The Australian Club Championships was a great success for our Cougars Weightlifting Club athletes with our A and B teams taking out the top 2 places.
From a personal coach point of view I was also immensely proud of those athletes I look after on a day to day basis.
Elite 53kg lifter Erika Ropati-Frost did not make weight, peak or max out for this event as she is saving all that for the senior World Championships in Texas next month. Instead she put in a solid 185 total in the 58kg category with a Queensland record of 105kg in the CJ. Erika is a very experienced lifter having participated in around 100 offcial weightlifting competitions since she started about 15 years ago.
At the other end of the spectrum, newcomer to weightlifting Kate Fyfe provided another highlight. The talented 22 year old at her second competition lifted some decent PBs of 78 snatch and 95 CJ in the 75kg category. This is an A grade performance on the Australian Weightlifting grading system – AWF Grades and Qualifying. Kate has only been at Cougars Weightlifting Club for a few weeks but has put plenty of kilos on her performance in that time and has a bright future ahead.
Kate is one of many crossfitters who have taken well to weightlifting. It seems to me the majority of emerging weightlifters in Australia these days start their weightlifting journey in crossfit. I personally appreciate crossfit for making weightlifting accessible to millions of people, for marketing weightlifting so well and for creating highly conditioned athletes with a passion and basic knowledge of weightlifting.
Another talented crossfitter to recently begin competing in weightlifting is Andrew Kelly. Here at his second comptition the 22 year old lifted a 108 snatch and 152 CJ and registered a respectable B grade on the Australian Weightlifting grading system.
I also particlarly enjoyed the performances of Ryley Porter (120/138@77), Mackenzie Coglan-Rochfort (national CJ and total records in the under 15 age group), Michelle Kahi (77/100 @69), Jackson Solofa (133/162@105+) and Liana Lambert (stood in with no notice when another lifter failed to show at weigh-in).
In weightlifting there are many reasons to enjoy a performance – it could be the sheer impressive weights lifted, the excellence of technique, the future potential it displays, the significance of the performance (for example qualifying or breaking a record), the story behind the performance………
Last weekend we were in Melbourne coaching the Queensland Team at the Australian Open and Junior (U20) Championships.
The highlight of the event (not just from Queensland’s point of view but for the whole of Australian Weightlifting) was Erika Ropati Frost’s outstanding performance. She became the first Australian woman to clean and jerk more than twice her bodyweight with a lift of 106kg at a bodyweight of 52.75. Together with an 82kg snatch she increased the National total record by a huge 7kg from 181 to 188kg. Her sinclair score of 284.666 is more than 30 points ahead of the next best Australian female (Pip Malone 254 points).
Queensland had a large team of 38 athletes, a 4 person coaching Team and a Tony Ropati-Frost as team manager. Miles Wydall was in the head coach role for this event (which gave me the luxury of being assistant coach).
Many people may not know what the coaching roles entail. The head coach role ramps up a couple weeks before the event – creating a coaching roster so that all weigh-in and warmup duties are covered, athletes will work with the coaches who know them best and the coaching workload is shared around.
Before the event the head coach will also be busy gathering and communicating information – the current form and advised weights for the lifters on the team as well as any bodyweight, pre-comp training and other information that may have an impact.
The head coach also needs to prepare information for the verification meeting including nominating the final point scoring team and the entry totals. This step is crucial – carefully selecting 7 women and 8 men as the point scorers – to maximise the points scored by Queensland. This year Queensland point scoring resulted in us winning the senior and junior women’s shields and coming a close second in the senior and junior men’s event.
During the competition our coaching duties include monitoring bodyweights, taking athletes to weigh-in, warming athletes up, selecting the correct platform attempts for athletes to achieve the outcomes desired (medals, placings, points). The head coach has the final say on what weights the athlete will take on the platform.
For the past few weeks our Cougars High Performance Squad has been doing a series of training sessions at the Queensland Academy of Sport. They have been participating in a study on the effects of heat on training and been subjected to squatting in a heated environment interspersed with saliva and internal temperature tests.
During our visits to the QAS we have been able to benefit from the great facilities they have there. They have an EliteForm system on every lifting platform which allows force/bar speed measurement after each rep/set – very handy feedback for high performance weightlifters (and their coaches).
We also enjoyed the delayed video feedback on the large overhead screens – as soon as the lifter has done a set we see it automatically replayed (from a decent side angle that works well for coaching).
This week I have been in the role of head coach for the Australian Team at the Pacific Games and Oceania Championships.
Our full 15 strong team had an interesting mix of experienced international competitors and new / first timers.
48k Mary Barter QLD
53k Erika Ropati-Frost QLD
58k Tia-Clair Toomey QLD
63k Kiana Elliott NSW
63k Philippa Malone NSW
75k Camilla Fogagnolo TAS
75+k Belinda van Tienen VIC
69k Matthew Munns WA
77k Francois Etoundi VIC
77k Mitch Delbridge QLD
85k Malek Chamoun NSW
85k Liam Larkins VIC
94k Ben Shaw QLD
105k Zac Grgurevic VIC
105+k Philip Wood VIC
It was a very successful campaign with Australia winning the team trophies in both the mens and womens events. I put this down to consistency with all team members getting a total and most winning medals. Overall the Australian Womens team won 4 gold, 9 silver and 4 bronze medals. Our men’s team won 2 gold, 7 silver, 3 bronze.
In the Pacific Games medals were awarded for snatch and clean and jerk, as well as total. This made for some interesting coaching tactics – especially with every bodyweight category being closely contested and numerous competitors taking similar weights for the win. It often came down to the calling order, who had attempts or changes left or who could make the smartest choice of weights.
When working with a team one of the highlights is still the performance of my own personal athletes. Erika Ropati Frost’s performance was superb. She snatched a new Australian record of 82kg in the 53kg category for a gold against local favorite Dika Toua. Dika was stronger in the CJ though, so Erika had to settle for silver there.
Many of the other athletes on the team put in impressive efforts and in many cases came out on top in battles for medals. I particularly enjoyed the performances of our Cougars Weightlifting Club members – Mary Barter, Tia-Clair Toomey and Mitch Delbridge as well as those of interstate lifters Pip Malone, Malek Chamoun and Zac Grgurevic and Phil Wood – they are a credit to their personal coaches.
The full results are here http://www.oceaniaweightlifting.com/comps/2015ocean/2015PacificGames.pdf
The weekend of 20th June was a huge weekend for the Cougars Weightlifting Club, hosting the Queensland Championships. There were many close battles, many medals, PBs and great performances.
From an Angie’s Squad point of view the number of lifters was quite small because the Youths lifted the previous weekend at their Nationals, so sat this one out.
Erika Ropati Frost is off to the Pacific Games next week, so for this event did not make weight or max out. She put in a comfortable 6/6 performance with 77 snatch, 100 clean and jerk. Despite lifting well within her limits she won the best lifter trophy with 264 sinclair points.
From a coaching perspective I was also pleased about the return to competition of 5 athletes who had been away for some months.
Many times Australian rep Michelle Kahi lifted in the 75s, taking the gold medal with an easy 72 snatch, 90 clean and jerk. Definitely a platform lifter, definitely capable of more!
Mel Robinson and Liana Lambert (both former Aus reps) showed strong progression on their returns to competition.
Billy Freer and Pito Levi both put in their first comp performance this year with Billy taking home a bronze medal in the 94s.
But one of the best things about all of this is the buzz, the momentum, the motivation, the excitement, the looking forward to the next one……..the potential
This weekend I have been in the role of head coach for the Queensland Team Australian Youth and U15 Championships. We had 38 young lifters and outstanding results with Queensland winning all team events – Youth and U15 events for both males and females.
The coaching team had a busy time with between 4 and 7 lifters every session. My usual strategy for Queensland teams is safe starters (roughly known beforehand, but confirmed and adjusted in the warm-up room), then go for best possible placing. If there are any attempts left after that go for the lifters preferred weights. The great thing about working with such an experienced coaching team (Miles Olympic Games Coach, Greg many times Australian coach at Oceania, Commonwealth and World level) is being able to get another opinion on weight selections.
Just about every lifter on the team finished with a personal best of some sort and went home happy with their results…..just what you want to see as a coach…..especially for youth lifters.