Just before we all kicked up our heels at the 2019 holiday break, six Australian athletes flew to Doha to continue their push toward Olympic glory. This was the first qualifying event in the third and final qualifying period for each of the six athletes.
They were Erika Yamasaki (55kg), Brandon Wakeling (73kg), Sarah Cochrane (64kg), Ebony Gorincu (76kg), Kaity Fassina (76kg) and Charisma Amoe-Tarrant (87kg+).
Erika started off the weekend well with a solid 4/6 performance, breaking the Australian snatch and total records as well as claiming the Oceania clean & jerk, and total records as a 55kg lifter.
The last time Erika was under 55kg for a competition was 2016. She has made the cut to improve her chances to qualify for the Olympics. With her great performance in December, it has put her one step closer to reaching that goal.
SNATCH:75, 79, 81X
CLEAN & JERK: 100, 102, 104X
Brandon, Australia’s top male weightlifter, and the only male to represent Australia in Doha, was up next. It was not Brandon’s day though. He missed his first two snatch attempts at 114kg, and only just clutched his third to keep in him the competition.
“With the snatches, I was still scratching my head while it was happening. I think 114kg is the lowest I’ve even started in ages. I don’t even know what went wrong. I guess that’s how the sport goes; sometimes you can’t explain the good days from the bad.”
After such a short turnaround from Worlds, coupled with the amount of travel he’s had to do to compete in five different countries in 2019, you could see the toll it had taken on Brandon’s body.
“I think after the whole year, I just needed a bit of rest. I didn’t have that fire, that energy that I usually have before a comp. I was a bit burnt out by the end of the year.”
After a couple weeks off over the New Year, Brandon is back to week one of training to lead into the Australian Open in February.
SNATCH: 114X, 114X, 114
CLEAN & JERK: 155, 162, 166X
Sarah was up next. Another 4/6 day for Sarah led her to the same total she hit at Worlds three months prior. But, in doing so, she broke the Australianclean & jerk record with 116kg.
Sarah is still so new to the sport, only competing since 2018, but has a real shot at the Olympic spot. The main competitor she needs to beat is fellow Australian Kiana Elliot who we have not seen a lot of since her less than perfect competition at Worlds in 2019.
SNATCH: 85, 90, 95X
CLEAN & JERK: 109X, 109, 116
Ebony hit the platform on day three having her best competition yet. She snatched 93kg and clean & jerked 113kg to give her a 5kg personal best on her total.
“The last few comps for me, my snatch has been a little bit inconsistent and so that’s been a bit of a focus for me leading in,” Ebony tells The Weightlifting Platform. Safe to say it paid off, as she went 3/3 with a 2kg PR.
“I’ve always said that I’ve got an outside chance at making the Olympics,” Ebony explains. “I pretty much have a choice. Whatever is going to be better for my [robi] points, I’ll either compete as a 71 or 76.”
Ebony is only about 47 robi points away from the leading Oceania lifter, Kanah Andrews of New Zealand, which gives her a great chance if she can continue to improve at the Australian Open and Oceania Champs this year.
SNATCH: 86, 90, 93
CLEAN & JERK: 108, 113X, 113
Kaity was poised to do something big leading into Doha, but she suffered back spasms only days before the comp. In saying that, her 3/6 performance still gave her fourth in the snatch and fifth overall. Had she succeeded in her 120kg clean & jerk attempt for her third lift, she would have jumped two spots and landed in third.
Although it was not Kaity’s best day, she is still sitting comfortably in an Olympic qualifying spot.
SNATCH: 95, 98X, 98
CLEAN & JERK: 115X, 115, 120X
Finally, Charisma took the platform. She not only had the best performance of the team, she had the best outing of her short weightlifting career to date.
“Honestly, I wasn’t really thinking too much about any goals, I wasn’t expecting it to go as good. It’s been a while since I’ve gone 6/6 in a competition,” the 20-year-old explained.
Charisma equalled her best snatch (110kg) and then went on to add 10kg to her clean & jerk (152kg) as well as 12kg to her best total (262kg).
Up against Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand for the Olympic spot, Charisma has a tough road ahead if she’s going to top Lauren within the next couple of competitions.
“I have been trying to find out about the Robi points but honestly all I can do is train hard and not think anything because Laurel is a wonderful person and a great lifter as well. So whatever the outcome is, I can still be proud.”
Charisma and Lauren will be going head to head at the Australian Open coming up in February with only two more chances to score those valuable Robi points.
SNATCH: 100, 105, 110
CLEAN & JERK: 140, 145, 152
Confused about how athletes qualify for the Olympics? Check out our explainer here!