Kiwi weightlifters get shot at Rio

By David Leggat

Richie Patterson of New Zealand in action in the 85kg men's weightlifting event. Photo / Getty
Richie Patterson of New Zealand in action in the 85kg men's weightlifting event. Photo / Getty

New Zealand will have two weightlifters competing at the Rio Olympics in August.

Veteran Richie Patterson will lift in the 85kg class, his third trip to the Olympics - equaling Don Oliver's New Zealand record for appearances -- while Tracey Lambrechs fulfills her ambition of an Olympic appearance in the 75kg and over division.

The naming, after last night's equestrian announcement, raises New Zealand's team to 111.

It has been 16 years since New Zealand selected a male and female weightlifter for a Games, Nigel Avery and Olivia Baker winning selection for the Sydney Olympics, which was also the first time women's weightlifting was on the Olympic programme.

Patterson, 33, won silver, then gold at the Delhi 2010 and Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games respectively.

He notably qualified for the London Olympics through the selfless effort of team mate Tavita Ngalu, who had to complete a lift at the Oceania championships with ripped quadriceps to enable Patterson, as New Zealand's highest-ranked lifter to win a spot.

"I'm feeling very excited to once again be back on the Olympic platform, it is the pinnacle honour in the sport of Olympic Weightlifting," Patterson said.

"Not only do I get to show my ability and compete against the best in the world, it is also a chance to represent the wider New Zealand sporting community.

"I look forward to exceeding my own expectations and to provide inspiration for generations to come."

Lambrechs was fifth at the Delhi Commonwealth Games and third in Glasgow.

"I'm just over the moon," Johannesburg-born Lambrechs said today.

"It's definitely satisfying and also just a big relief. It's a very stressful process."

She had to perform at the Oceania champs in Fiji in May. The New Zealand team had to qualify a spot there. That was the last chance for New Zealand to get a place in Rio.

Lambrechs lifted 240kg, her second biggest total, 2kg behind her New Zealand record. She attempted a 243kg record but "I just got a little too excited and messed it up".

"We're hitting personal bests in training and competition so that's really good."

Her plan for Rio is to get a New Zealand record but she admitted much of weightlifting comes down to how an athlete is feeling on the day of competition.

- NZ Herald

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