After qualifying for three Nationals categories — Under 15, Under 17 and Under 20 — a couple of months ago, 14-year-old Conor MacDonald had his work cut out for him. This was especially true considering Conor’s main rival leading into the comp: Jebez Teitinga from Phoenix Weightlifting Club.
The plan for Conor was to not drop too far behind in the snatch. Jebez was the favourite to win that lift. So Conor’s best chance was to simply to minimise Jebez’s winning margin in the snatch, and then come back with a huge clean & jerk to clinch the gold.
Conor’s coach Josh Ward explained:
“We knew he had a great chance to podium and take out gold so we went into the morning knowing we were up for a fun battle with Jebez.”
On the day of the comp, Conor came in 4kg behind after the snatch, giving Jebez a fragile lead going into the clean & jerk.
The warm-ups started getting heavy as the Phoenix team kept pushing Jebez’s weights up on the board. Conor’s team planned to open at 95kg but had to go 97kg to stay in reach. Conor nailed his opener, bringing his total above Jebez’s. But then Jebez hit back on his second attempt at 97kg to put him back in front. Now Conor was in trouble.
“Taking a 6kg jump here was not our plan but we were so far off our plan by now we had to go for it,” Josh said. “And Conor knew how much each lift meant now.”
Pulling out all the stops, Conor made 103kg — a new National U15 record. But Jebez wanted that gold just as badly, solidly nailing a 103kg on his third to go 5/6 and take back the lead.
It was do or die. Stepping onto the platform, Conor knew a 108kg clean & jerk — nothing more and nothing less — would clinch it for him. He hits it with conviction, claiming a new national record, and taking the win in the U15 and U17, while placing third in the U20 and U23.
After the comp, Conor’s coach Josh said:
“We love competition like that, it brings out the best in everyone and creates some great memories. We are excited to see Jebez and Team Phoenix back out on the platform for round two.”
Conor goes on to win the best over all lifter in the under 15 and under 17 categories with his incredible performance.