At 7.30am, on a crisp Saturday morning in the dead of winter, the CrossFit Westgate gym in Melbourne’s Williamstown should be dead quiet. And yet it’s a hive of activity. Competitors mill about chatting — excited, nervous. Event staff in hi-vis vests carry barbell plates back and forth, trying to work out the best location for the loaders. Disco tunes are pumping out of a two-stack PA system. The coffee cart is already doing repeat business.
Welcome to Western Warriors — one of the most exciting events on the weightlifting calendar.
When you walk into CrossFit Westgate, the first thing you notice — apart from the many old WODs detailed in streaks of faded chalk on the concrete walls — is a large sign listing the gym’s 12 rules. Rule number three reads, “Leave your ego at the door, it’s likely to get a smackdown if you don’t”. It’s a fitting tagline for this unique competition. Sure, all the competitors want to do their best and, ideally, to win. But Western Warriors avoids the bracing atmosphere of ruthless combativeness you might find at other competitive sporting events. Everyone here is friendly and laid back.
That spirit was truly embodied in Lilz Suesue from Westbourne CrossFit Braybrook, who competed in the first women’s bracket. Lilz was a fan favourite, and an eye-poppingly strong lifter. Each time she took to the platform, she did so with an ear-to-ear smile, bobbing her head to the music, raising her hand to the crowd, encouraging them to cheer. Lilz went 6/6 on the platform, posting an impressive 86kg snatch and a monster 113kg clean & jerk — enough to secure her third place overall.
The two women ahead of Lilz — Jamie Goodwin from Schwartz CrossFit, and Katrina Smith from Metal Therapy CrossFit — both competed in the second session. It was a real treat watching these two lifters battle it out for the podium and the ultimate prize for first place: the very barbell they were competing with.
Kat opened her snatch at a daunting 77kg, but managed to make it look like an empty barbell. “It’s a gooooood lift!” Damo boomed, as three white flags went up (there are no lights at Western Warriors). It’s a refrain we were to hear many times throughout the day. Jamie’s best snatch was 69kg, as she missed her third attempt at 73kg. However, Jamie weighed in 7kg lighter than Kat, so there was still a chance she could nab first place on Sinclair points.
Jamie brought her A game in the clean & jerk. She went 3/3, lifting 93kg on her third attempt.
Kat opened at 97kg, but missed her second and third attempts at 101kg and 104kg respectively. With Kat’s two failed attempts, it briefly looked like Jamie might leapfrog her. In the end, Kat’s dominance in the snatch saved her and she clinched gold by 12 Sinclair points over Jamie.
The men’s comp featured an incredibly competitive field. With the likes of Sam Flavell, Sione Tatu, Robert Demayo and Brandon Accardi, the race for the podium was hot!
Sam is a CrossFit games competitor. Robert is on New Zealand’s national team. Brandon is an Australian Nationals lifter. When The Weightlifting Platform asked Sione what he did he said “I’m just a CrossFitter”. He trains out of Westbourne Gym.
Sam went 4/6 with a massive 120kg snatch and 145kg clean & jerk at a body weight of just 78.9kg. Ultimately, he secured 1st place. Sione, “the CrossFitter” made some enormous attempts opening with a 125kg snatch and later just narrowly missing his other two attempts at 130kg and 135kg. But he managed to go 3/3 in his clean & jerk to lock up second.
The real race was for third place. Because the competition was ranked on Sinclair points, it ended up being the lightest man in the field up against the heaviest: Robert v Brandon. Robert was the first one to post all his lifts nailing a 107kg snatch and 133kg clean & jerk and then he had to wait and see how the weights fell.
Brandon was up against it, watching all the other lifters crush some impressive weights before he got his chance. His snatch was looking great, but then he just missed a 141kg attempt in front, leaving him with a best lift of 135kg. He needed something big in the clean & jerk to get onto the podium.
Unfortunately, he missed his first attempt when his back foot slipped off the back of the smaller platform (gym owner Damo announced at the beginning of the comp that it wasn’t “regulation sized”). Brandon regained his composure and smashed his second attempt at 152kg. However, he then made a bigger jump than he needed to with an attempt at 160kg. He made the clean but missed the jerk, finishing one sinclair point away from Robert.
An honourable mention must go to Brock Harvey. At just nine years old, Brock displayed real courage stepping out onto the platform amid blokes three times his age and bodyweight. He lifted using a 7kg training bar, which became a mathematical headache for the plate loaders. But Brock made his attempts with confidence and poise. We’re very excited to see what this promising young lifter can achieve in the next 10 years and beyond.
Full results are linked below.