The 6th Qatar Cup is fast approaching, and to kick off the 3rd and final Olympic qualifying period Australia will be sending a large team of athletes, all of whom have a great chance to hold onto — or finally snag — a qualifying spot.
Erika Yamasaki (Qld), Sarah Cochrane (Qld), Ebony Gorincu (Qld), Kaitlyn Fassina (Tas), Charisma Amoe-Tarrant (Qld) and Brandon Wakeling (Qld) will be sporting the green and gold in Doha this December.
Barring any real catastrophe, Brandon is set to lock up the top spot in Oceania, since he finished in the number one continental spot in both the 73kg and 81kg categories. Brandon just has to go out, lift well and stay in front of Taretiita Baraniko Tabaroua from Kiribati, and he will be on his way to Tokyo.
As far as the women’s side of the draw, though, it’s still anyone’s game. One surprising omission for the Doha team is Kiana Elliott. Kiana finished in the top continental spot in both the first and second qualifying periods. Of course, Sarah Cochrane and Megan Signal (NZ) have been chasing her down, so this will be a great battle to keep an eye on going into this final qualifying period. Kiana will only need a couple of good performances in this window, whereas Sarah and Megan will need to put on the best performances of their careers to claim their spots.
At the end of the second qualifying period, Charisma sits in the top continental spot — but only just. She’s only 5 Robi points ahead of Laurel Hubbard (NZ) who is a force when she’s in top form. But not only does Charisma have to worry about out-lifting Laurel, she also has to hope that Feagaiga Stowers (SAM) can hold onto one of the top eight world spots. This would allow two lifters from Oceania to go to the Olympics. But if Feagaiga drops out of the top 8, she will take the continental spot instead, and ultimately push Charisma and Laurel out of contention. Laurel has recently decided to take up the rest of her training in New Caledonia at the Oceania Weightlifting Institute in preparation for the Olympic qualifying events. This is going to allow Laurel to focus 100% of weightlifting and may give her that edge she needs.
Erika has dropped down to the 55kg category for this final qualifying period. All she’d have to do is weigh-in to take the top spot off Mary Kini Lifu (SOL). Of course, Erika could extend her lead if she has a good performance. And, by the looks of her social media, this seems like a solid possibility. Plus, she’ll be looking to do something big in Doha to show the AWF she really deserves the spot.
One thing to remember is that Australia can send a maximum of three girls and three guys to the Olympics. With Kiana, Erika and Kaitlyn all looking like they have their spots locked up, the AWF will have some tough decisions to make around Charisma, Ebony, Sarah and possibly Eileen Cikamatana, once the dust has settled at the end of this qualifying period.
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