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  • ATR Extra: Heavy Lifting - Backyard Barbells in the Middle of the Night


    (ATR) Australia’s small but select band of Olympic weightlifting hopefuls have certainly challenged their body clocks during the inaugural IWF Online Youth World Cup.

    Lily Strange competing in the IWF Online Youth World Cup. (IWF)
    With the host nation Peru unable to play host to the rest of the world in another major event casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic, the next best thing was for the world to log on and lift online from their own backyards.

    For today’s teenagers, growing up in an online world certainly played a major part in accepting the fact that this concept will be here to stay – no matter what time of the day or night it is - you have to lift your game.

    And for the Australian team it’s all about lifting the lid on a whole new concept while living in a southern hemisphere country that has Covid-19 largely under control.

    They will all agree the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages of a late night or early morning lift.

    This birth of the IWF Online World Cup, where lifters from all around the world lined up to perform – no matter where they were or what time it was – has been a huge success.

    In some cases in Eastern Australia in centers like Toowoomba, Cairns, Brisbane and on the Gold Coast it was backyard barbells at 10 paces as they woke before dawn or were forced to burn the midnight oil.

    From Lily Strange at Queensland’s North Brisbane Weightlifting Club at Zillmere, out to Tori Gallegos at Toowoomba Weightlifting Club in the State’s Darling Downs, up to Max Toller from the Dungeon Barbell Club in Cairns in Far North Queensland and down to Maddison Power at the Burleigh Barbells Club on the Gold Coast - they formed an Australian team like no other and while out of the medals they all performed to expectations under trying times.

    Maddison Power and coach Callum Hannay (Queensland State Championships)
    All feeling for their luckless teammate, Oliver Saxton from Perth in Western Australia on the other side of the country, his midnight schedule actually forced him to withdraw before the event even started.

    “The biggest challenge for our team of course was the time difference, daylight hours in Peru didn’t relay to convenient times in Australia,” admitted Australian Weightlifting CEO Ian Moir.

    “But to their credit our guys had their microphones on when they were lifting in their respective clubs and they had large groups of supporters and families who were a big part of it giving them a hand at pretty odd hours so good for them to have that support.

    “Oliver was scheduled to lift at midnight on Sunday night and he trains in his home gym in suburbia in Perth and making all that noise at midnight on a Sunday just wasn’t an option.

    “His parents coach him as well and they said unfortunately once the schedule was announced they just couldn’t disturb the peace on a Sunday night, so unfortunately Oliver had to withdraw," Moir said.

    “The other difficulty was those scheduled to lift at 6am in the morning in North Brisbane and Toowoomba where they actually had to weigh in at 4am at the latest to record their body weight and login in for the competition.

    “They then had to be at their best a couple of hours later; it was certainly not in their normal time frame with most of the training done in the afternoons and evenings.

    “If they do train in the mornings it’s later in the mornings…a 4am wake up call is a bit of a shock to a weightlifter’s system!

    “Max Toller from Cairns started his competition at 11pm and to be truthful he looked pretty sharp and was quite successful.

    “He was in a C session or group, a very popular bodyweight category for 89 kilogram men and quite a large group divided into three categories an A B and C and he finished just before midnight

    Maddison Power's session started after midnight.(BA 2018)
    “Maddison Power was in the next session, the women’s 71kg B group and she didn’t actually start until half past midnight and did not finish until around 1:15am in the morning and truthfully I was quite impressed.

    “They certainly gave it a good shot; I think the midnight time seemed better than the 6am starts…it is one of those things you have to deal with.

    “Also one of the great things about it was seeing inside everyone else’s training centers…looking at the internationals you can see who is training in the National training center and who is training inside their garages at home.

    “And that is where they are participating in the event from…it is quite interesting to see all the different setups and lay outs..I was even quite surprised at our National event at some of the size of the gyms,” Moir concluded.

    There is little doubt that despite the teething problems and technical issues that the online version of weightlifting competitions is here to stay.

    And the youth of today know they were born to “Carry That Weight.”

    Content presented by the International Weightlifting Federation

    Written and reported by Ian Hanson

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