Aussie Weightlifters A Go In Birmingham

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Amellia Wood for Commonwealth Games Australia

The Australian weightlifting team have started their Birmingham 2022 campaign with two fifth place standings in a competitive year for the sport.

As the first Australian team member for Birmingham 2022, Kean made her Commonwealth Games weightlifting debut with pride and family in the packed National Exhibition Stands.

Lifting for a medal in the Women’s 59kg event, Kean cleared her first snatch of 79kg with some slight footing issues. Unsuccessful in her second snatch, the third saw her lift 83kg and position her well heading into the clean and jerk.

A clean 106kg lift resulted in Kean achieving a total of 189kg, just one kilogram short of the fourth-placed Anneke Spies from South Africa.

Games gold medalist Rafiatu Folashade Lawal made history for Nigeria with an inspiring Games record of 206kg (90kg snatch, 116kg clean and jerk).

Her first club competition in weightlifting just over 16 months ago, Kean spoke on the result and whirlwind experience of being selected to represent her country.

“My goal was to get out there and get a total, which I did,” she said.

“Weightlifting is such a tough sport mentally, so I really wanted to give it everything I have.

“I know how hard I’ve worked to get here and so has everyone else that’s here, so a medal really was a bonus considering I didn’t expect to be here a year ago.”

Weightlifting veteran Brandon Wakeling also landed the number five sport in the Men’s 73kg, a new best on the Commonwealth and Olympic stage.

Wakeling finished seventh in his first Games on the Gold Coast in 2018 and 13th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo last year.

He cleared 127kg in his second snatch, but the crowd knew he’d make up for it with his superior skill in the clean and jerk. Sitting second his first lift of 163kg, Wakeling struggled to clear 172kg in attempts two and three.

With a total of 290kg, Wakeling said his placing came back to having realistic expectations and focusing on development.

“Last Commonwealth Games I wasn’t really in the talks of a medal so this time going for the medal was an improvement,” she said.

“Weight wise, I was a little disappointed as in training I had been lifting enough to go for a possible silver, but you can’t expect the world at every competition.

“The crowd makes a massive difference and makes the lift more memorable though, and they were loud tonight.”

Wakeling said he is keen to see what his team members deliver in the coming days in Birmingham, but for him it’s straight into Paris 2026 preparations.

“I’ll go home and see my family before starting the campaign for the Olympics. The first qualifying event will be some time next year, but I just want to focus on training again.

I’ve had a lot of injuries over the years so in Tokyo I only had eight weeks of training, for these Games I only had ten, so when I have the chance to have a good solid run of numbers in training, I can see myself pushing the top of that medal count.”

With a growing following getting behind weightlifting at the Commonwealth Games this year, Kean encouraged sport lovers to tune in and get behind her team across the next days of competition.

“I think people assume weightlifting is boring, but it so, so is not,” she said.

“Especially in these competitions where there’s the top athletes from the world and all different tactics, just bet behind it!”

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