The Australian Open is fast approaching. The preliminary start list is out, but it can be tricky to understand the significance of this announcement. Luckily, The Weightlifting Platform is here to help!
This year’s Australian Open is particularly interesting. Because under the new, higher qualification standards the AWF introduced in late 2019, there were questions about participation levels and the ultimate objective of the Open.
These questions can now be answered by looking at the preliminary start list: this will be a high-level competition focused on the athletes fighting for a spot at the Olympics.
For a lot of these athletes, they only have two more comps to build on their Robi score to make the Olympics. We cannot stress enough how important this competition will be for a lot of these athletes.
The countries with the most athletes represented are:
New Zealand: 10
Here are some key names you should be watching out for…
This will be an incredible session to kick off the men’s side of the comp. Full of the lightweights (55kg/61kg/67kg/73kg) there are a bunch of names you need to watch out for.
Firstly, Elson Brechtefeld from Nauru. Elson is an Olympian from the 2016 Games in Rio and one of the fastest weightlifters you will ever see.
There’s also Mobea Bare from PNG, who is a 2018 Commonwealth Games silver medalist.
Ruben Katoatau (Kiribati) and Vaipava Ioana (Samoa) have the same entry total down for the 67kg category, so expect a great battle between these two incredible athletes. Both have competed in the Commonwealth Games. Vaipava took home a bronze in 2014 and then went on to compete at the Olympics. This is a must-watch head-to-head.
And then we have the Aussie Brandon Wakeling in the 73kg category, continuing his push towards the Tokyo Olympics. Brandon has all but locked up a spot but needs to continue lifting well, as he did not have the day he wanted in Doha in late 2019.
DAVID KATOATUA (102)
David Katoatua (Kiribati) sits atop the 102kg division but only by 3kg (hot on his heels is Luke Fulham from NSW).
Dubbed “The Dancing Weightlifter” after he danced off the platform at the Commonwealth Games and Olympics, this happy-go-lucky athlete is coming off a shoulder injury and only at the start of December was attempting 25kg snatches in training for the first time in months.
David won’t be anywhere near his top form but is likely to put on a show against Luke for that gold medal.
DON OPELOGE (96)
Don is undoubtedly one of the best male weightlifters in Oceania. He has put in a massive entry total of 365kg, which is a total Don has never lifted in international competition before.
At 18 years old, Don won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth games and now has all but locked up a spot for the Olympics.
Don’s entry total sits 15kg heavier than his closest competitor, so it’s safe to say, barring a boom, Don will be taking home gold.
As always, the 89kg men’s division looks to be one of the most competitive divisions of the weekend. Pretty much anyone — from first on the startlist, all the way down to fifth —could podium.
This is a true Trans-Tasman battle with two kiwis and three Aussies all in the race.
CAMERON MCTAGGART (NZL)
MICHAEL LANE (NSW)
JOEL GREGSON (QLD)
LIAM SAXBY (QLD)
DOUGLAS SEKONE-FRASER (NZL)
Cameron is at the top of the list with a massive 300kg total. He is by far the most experienced lifter out of the five, but Michael and Joel follow close behind. One way or another, this is going to be a tight battle.
If any one of those top three falter, Liam and Douglas are good enough to be able to take a spot on the podium, so we definitely would not count them out.
Stay tuned for our breakdown and analysis of the women’s startlist — out Wednesday!