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  • ATR Extra: Heavy Lifting - Mum's The Word On Olympic Power Trip


    (ATR) Burleigh Heads on Australia’s Gold Coast is a water sports mecca, famous for surfing, swimming and surf lifesaving.

    Maddison Power and Callum Hanney (ATR)
    But nestled away in the unique semi-rural, semi-industrial suburb of West Burleigh – just a stone’s throw from the golden sands of Burleigh Beach sits Burleigh Barbells - a vibrant local, weightlifting club.

    It’s home to Zimbabwean-born owner coach Callum Hannay, who lived in Saudi Arabia before spending his teenage years growing up in South Africa.

    He was into swimming and baseball, playing rugby and cricket and onto the fringe of a surfing career in body-boarding in Cape Town.

    He developed into a Muay Thai fighter for six years before finding Cross Fit in Australia which morphed into his love of weightlifting.

    And when you arrive at the Barbells gymnasium to catch up with aspiring junior Maddison Power, one of the emerging stars of the Barbells team, the place is buzzing with “Coach Cal” orchestrating a Friday afternoon training session.

    It’s a hive of activity on a day when Burleigh’s blue collar brigade are heading to near-by Burleigh Tavern for their well earned beers to mark the end of another working week as Covid slowly but surely opens up from lockdowns and border closures.

    But no time for happy hour for the hard working Barbells crew.

    They’ve got some heavy lifting to do and my colleague Neil Cadigan and I had a date with 17-year-old schoolgirl Maddi – who had just completed her final day in Year 11 at nearby Varsity College.

    Just days earlier Maddi had been up at midnight not studying but competing in the IWF Online Youth World Cup – which had been set for Peru in November – but transformed into a successful worldwide online competition.

    Maddi had qualified for the Australian team after marking her mark in the previous World Cup, the Oceania Mini Games and the Youth Olympics – a pathway she is hoping will take her to the next Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022 and hopefully one day to her ultimate dream the Olympic Games.

    Maddi Power with her mother Nikki (ATR)
    When we arrive Maddi is actually warming up with another lifter – her mother Nikki who has been a positive influence on Maddi since they started Cross Fit together before embarking on some heavier lifting.

    “I wasn’t sure if they were going to postpone or cancel the World Cup and I didn’t know straight away they were going to turn it into an online event,” said Maddi, as she spoke to us in the adjoining office, the barbells clattering in the background.

    “I had been preparing for a couple of months…. I actually found out in around July and I wasn’t so sure about it at the beginning.

    “I compete so well when there is such a big audience there...everyone cheering and watching me and the thoughts of an online comp and just doing it here at the club (in the gym at Burleigh) it would be just like an average training session where you don’t really have that atmosphere.

    “In saying that I definitely enjoyed it, it was different and I had a good comp.

    “I was surprised with how I did as we were playing it a bit safe and just keen to get some numbers on the board with the plan to maybe for my last attempt go up heavy.

    “We wanted to make sure we got a lift…and got a total…. of 172kg…and my best is 180kg. which I did at senior States …so that wasn’t too bad.”

    Power competed at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games. (BA2018)
    And with school now done until Year 12 starts next year, Maddi has some bigger fish to fry.

    With the 2020 – now 2021 Tokyo Olympics too soon for Maddi, the striking youngster with the flaming red locks will look to the next qualification period for the 2022 Commonwealth Games which runs through 2021.

    And how did this career in weightlifting begin?

    Maddi was involved in Cross Fit classes with her Mum when their coach became pregnant and left to have her baby. Maddi’s Mum Nikki decided she actually liked the weightlifting component and they both joined the Gold Coast Weightlifting Club and then the Burleigh Barbells.

    And for Maddi it could well be a life changing move.

    “Weightlifting is awesome…I definitely want to make it to the Olympics that’s my aim,” said Maddi.

    “Making it to the Youth Olympics was the start but I want to make it to the actual Olympics…

    “The Youth Olympics showed me what the sport was like on a worldwide scale….that was my first World’s comp and that gave me a real insight in to the international scene.”

    And now she is hooked…

    Maddi and "Coach Cal" are working toward Commonwealth Games qualification. (ATR)
    “I love how weight lifting is viewed in other countries,. touring the world, experiencing the different cultures…”

    And Maddi’s take on “Coach Cal"?

    “He is amazing ..Cal knows what comps are coming up and he always plans things out and what weights we should do…such a good coach and a massive support. He’s really encouraging, ” said Maddi.

    “It is certainly a fun atmosphere at Burleigh Barbells and its great to have the support of all the lifters in the gym that’s for sure.”

    And Callum on Maddi?

    “The good thing with Maddi is we’re always trying to get her ahead of the game; she is lifting well against girls five to six years older than her (in the junior division, which is under-20 and seniors at under-23) as I’m always trying to get her on the podium at senior level,” said Hannay.

    “She’s got the dreams and aspirations, that’s for sure. Her ultimate goal is competing in the Commonwealth Games in 2022 in Birmingham, or certainly the one after.

    “She’s very determined, always brings her A game when it’s most needed.

    “In three competitions, back-to-back in a month and a half, she recorded a personal best as an opener and then got better and qualified each time with her last lift every time.

    “She’ll go as far as she wants. She’ll follow her program to the tee and has a good faith in our coach-athlete relationship. She’s a pleasure to coach.”

    Maddison Power is certainly a young lady lifting her game.

    Content presented by the International Weightlifting Federation

    Written and reported by Ian Hanson and Neil Cadigan

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