The UCOL Weightlifting Club has got off to a great start, with the first competition of the year in Whanganui producing personal best performances and qualifying for the North Island Championships in July.
The club was formally registered in March 2018, with staff and students competing under the banner of UCOL’s Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand (OWNZ) affiliated club. The competition, hosted by Whanganui Olympic Weightlifting at CrossFit Whanganui, was Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science (BESS) students’ Raphael Sa’u and Corrie Keedle’s first ever weightlifting competition. While for fellow BESS students George Williams, Vikas Nautiyal and Jack Langmead, it was their first competition for 2018.
For the students, seeing New Zealand’s weightlifting gold medallist David Liti win the sportsmanship award on top of his Gold Medal at the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast and achieving personal bests (PB’s) across the board in both the Snatch and Clean & Jerk in Whanganui, has inspired them to see how far they can go, as George says:
“I love the training, we have a diverse bunch of people and wide age range. Hayden’s passion rubs off on the rest of us and now we all want to compete in the Nationals. We have set goals, we are aiming high, and we see that the research being done is real.”
Student Jack Langmead said that the UCOL weightlifting club has become like a second family, and anyone new starting is made to feel welcome. Vikas recognises that UCOL is the only polytechnic to have an official Olympic weightlifting club and said that having UCOL’s support is awesome.
A highlight of the club for Raphael is that once the students graduate they will still be affiliated to UCOL and are able to compete under the OWNZ club; “Here on in, when we graduate from UCOL and go on to do different things and live in different cities, we’re still part of UCOL. We may train away from the group, but when there are competitions, we’ll all get together again and represent UCOL.”
The Club is an official Olympic Weightlifting Club of New Zealand and staff and students have been training together since 2016. Initially it was a way to help improve students’ techniques with lifts and attain a “point of difference” in their ability to perform and coach the more technical barbell movements. Now many students are keen on competing at both local and national competitions in the sport of weightlifting.
The club is coached by Dr. Hayden Pritchard, himself an Oceania champion powerlifter and UCOL Exercise and Sports Science Lecturer. Hayden is certified as a Level 1 Coach by the Australian Weightlifting Federation, and has enjoyed the challenge of coaching the more technical lifts, “I like the problem solving that is required in helping students improve. It is not only a matter of getting students stronger. Often slight changes to technique, or improvements in mobility, can make big changes to the numbers the students can achieve in the Olympic lifts.”