If you’ve been around the weightlifting world in Victoria, or even Australia generally, the past couple of years, you will know the name Sofia Zudova. It’s a name now synonymous with formidable strength and snatch mastery. As well as being one of the best lifters in the game, Sofia was also always one of the friendliest faces in competitive weightlifting. So it’s unfortunate for us that Sofia recently announced her retirement from competition.
Sofia discovered the sport after bowing out of volleyball in 2014. Not wanting “to become a little dumpling”, she decided to take up CrossFit at a gym just across the road from her home. Quickly noticing she had a natural flair with the barbell — and was even starting to outlift most of the guys at the CrossFit gym — she realised it was time to get serious.
In 2016, Sofia decided with her coach at the time to give the Commonwealth Games qualification a crack. And, boy, did she get close! With a year and a half until the games, Sofia changed coaches and began training with Simon Francazio of Hawthorn Weightlifting Club. It was frustrating at first. Francazio pulled her back to working with an empty barbell, forcing her to focus on technique. Still, Sofia had full trust and faith in her new coach.
But in every single competition that Sofia needed to do well at to qualify for the games, she “just missed the mark,” she tells The Weightlifting Platform. “The worst one, but also the best, was probably the Comm Champs [in 2017]. I was on fire. I never made weight so easy,” she tells us.
Sofia totalled 198kg, which ended up being her best competition total of her career. She came in fourth, only 1kg away from the bronze medal. In the end it was bitter sweet. If she’d made a 110kg clean & jerk and totalled 200kg, she would have been heading to the Commonwealth Games.
Nevertheless, Sofia had a great career. She won Nationals in 2018, after coming second in 2016. She won all four Victorian State Champs that she entered, and got to compete at some prestigious international competitions.
More recently, something changed for Sofia. “The sport that I love has become a chore and another source of stress,” she says. Which is why she has made the decision to step down as a competitive weightlifter.
“I don’t want to end up resenting the sport and do garbage on the platform. It doesn’t make you a very good leader and mentor in the sport if you are inconsistent or constantly out of shape.”
You will definitely still she Sofia around, counting attempts in the warm-up room and supporting her club and community. But for now, she is happy focusing on her postgrad degree in law, and only lifting for fun. She might even try something new like BJJ, she tells us.
We wish Sofia all the best in her new endeavours.