Olympics: Weighty tasks for lightweight Kiwi athlete

By David Leggat

Richie Patterson is aiming to become the lightest New Zealand weightlifter to successfully hoist 200kg. Picture / Getty Images
Richie Patterson is aiming to become the lightest New Zealand weightlifter to successfully hoist 200kg. Picture / Getty Images

Richie Patterson has a couple of tough assignments in the coming days.

He's aiming to become the lightest New Zealand weightlifter to successfully hoist 200kg when his under 85kg division takes place on August 3. John Bolton holds the mark, with a bodyweight of 98kg.

The Auckland lifter has other business to attend to though.

The story of how Patterson got to London is well known, how injured team mate Tevita Ngalu lifted on one leg at the Oceania championships in Suva to help secure sufficient points for Patterson, as New Zealand's top-ranked lifter, to qualify for the Games.

So while it is still a weightlifting competition and Patterson's focus is on that, he also wants to pay his respects to the Auckland storeman.

"My plan was to try and find a nice shirt somewhere around the Olympics and swap the shirt out," Patterson said yesterday.

"I'm a medium but I think I need to get a triple XXXL, which is pretty hard in terms of swapping.

"Someone who is a triple XXXL doesn't really want a medium shirt, so I've got to trade up within the New Zealand team first," he joked.

Anyone in mind to swap with? "There's some pretty big Russians hanging around."

Patterson, 29, has spent the last couple of weeks training in Tampere, Finland with a group of former Olympic lifters.

The result is he feels he is in the best shape of his career.

He's also far more composed about this competition than he was at his Olympic debut in Beijing four years ago.

The Olympic environment is familiar now and he is confident within himself that he's given himself the best chance to shine.

"Beijing was quite overwhelming. But now it's quite the norm to come in and there's the food hall over there, there's the training platforms. So I feel I have an element of control over things now.

"I'm really happy. I think I've got things pretty much spot on for this campaign," he said.

That said, a touch of nervous energy won't hurt either.

"You get a bit of an adrenalin rush," Patterson said.

"I heard [Roger] Federer say when the nerves stop kicking in that's when you shouldn't be there."

Coach Adam Storey and Patterson were reluctant to get into specifics in terms of snatch, and clean and jerk targets.

"We do have a number [in mind] but it's very hard to gauge how a competition is running," Storey said.

"Basically our lifts will be dictated by the competition and what we need to do to get the best possible placing.

"To go in with a frame of mind that we've got to lift X and Y is always dangerous."

But working out an ideal finishing spot is easier.

"A top 10 would be a dream scenario for us," Storey said last night.

"Anything from top 16 up is what we've got our eyes on."

But Patterson and Storey will certainly have a thought for Ngalu on competition day.

"All of us will always remember that," Storey said.

- NZ Herald

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