New Zealand Nationals is fast approaching and it’s set to be one of the biggest weightlifting events since COVID struck.
Booked into Trustpower Baypark Arena, this event is poised to elevate New Zealand weightlifting to the next level of professionalism and excitement.
Over the last few years, Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand (OWNZ) has incrementally increased the quality of competitions in the nation.
OWNZ did this not by raising the qualifying standards nor the exclusivity of its events, but by opening the whole thing up, ensuring its events are delivered and displayed in more exciting and accessible ways for weightlifters and non-weightlifters alike.
The upcoming Nationals will be no exception. There are some truly amazing athletes stepping onto the platform over the course of the weekend, including all of New Zealand’s Olympic hopefuls. We’re especially looking forward to some great match-ups on the women’s side of the competition.
The big names
Starting off with Pip Patterson in the 55s. Pip is a two-time Commonwealth Games athlete (2014-2018). Pip has an extremely low entry total compared to her best lifts but we doubt she will budge at all off the top spot on the podium.
Of course, you can’t look past Megan Gifford out of Papatoetoe Olympic Weightlifting Club. Megan is the frontrunner not only for Nationals in the 71kg session but for an Olympic berth next year.
We will see Laurel Hubbard out on the platform for the first time since she bombed at the Australian Open earlier this year. Again, her entry total is drastically lower than we would expect at only 200kg. We have seen Laurel lift as much as 285kg in competition in the past.
Over on the men’s side there is an array of talented lifters across all weight classes. A name most people will know by now is Cameron McTaggart. He normally lifts as an 81kg lifter but has decided not to drop weight for this comp and lift as an 89. This is great news for all the 81s but not so much for the 89s.
Xavier Albert, Cameron Smith and Douglas Sekone-Fraser all face a tough battle to beat Cam — or to fight it out for second and third place. Douglas looks as though he could be trying to fly under the radar only entering a 200kg total so far, but we all know he’s got podium-level numbers in him.
David Liti is probably the biggest name in New Zealand weightlifting at the moment. Lifting as a 109+, David sits comfortably in the top spot to go to the Olympics and is one of our top picks to watch over the weekend.
The young stars
Probably one of the biggest names in the competition is also the youngest lifter on the start-list. Olivia McFarland, at 14 years old, qualified not only for the junior competition but for the seniors as well. Lifting out of Papatoetoe Olympic Weightlifting Club, Olivia is the brightest rising star in weightlifting. At 64kg she sits in third on the preliminary start-list and could very well end up on the podium.
Johan Roberts can never be overlooked. This kid just doesn’t stop putting massive numbers up and still as a young junior he sits in the top ranked spot in the 73 weight class on the preliminary start list. This kid has huge potential and if he can take a gold at senior Nationals as a junior, it will really show what he can do.