He's had his first flirtation with weightlifting and has come out on top but Ollie Clinton isn't about to be unfaithful to his true love, crossfit.

Clinton was crowned the under-77kg champion in his first foray of the New Zealand Secondary Schools' Weightlifting Championship in Auckland last weekend.

"It's great to win but crossfit is still where my heart is," says the Hastings Boys' High School pupil who is a competitive member of the Crossfit First Light health club in Havelock North.

Not only was Clinton in a weight class with the biggest field but also the most competitive. He was up against Auckland schools that boast regimented weightlifting programmes.

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The 16-year-old took up crossfit about 18 months ago because he wanted a more tensile template for playing basketball, as a guard, although, ironically, hoop heaven is now a distant memory for someone who occasionally helps out the HBHS B team.

"I started liking crossfit a bit more because of the different challenges it offers you," he says.

However, Clinton also had begun noticing a resultant strengthening and conditioning discipline that had started emerging with his crossfit training which made lifting weights more agreeable, if not a breeze.

Without doubt, the short-sharp repetitions of crossfit had to make way for a more meditative state required for weightlifting almost two months before he entered the domain of the chalk-dusted hook grippers who make the snatch, and clean-and-jerk routines a work of art.

"It started changing my focus to more strength stuff but also crossfit to keep my fitness levels up."

The Year 12 pupil began by taming the technical snatch discipline, registering 80kg first up before closing his account on 89kg in his final attempt to equal his personal best of 96kg.

That start propelled him into first place by 3kg from his nearest rival.

In the clean-and-jerk event, Clinton succeeded with a 100kg lift before raising the bar to 108kg in just his second attempt to guaranteed pole position. In clearing 125kg in his final attempt, he smashed his personal-best lift by 5kg.

His overall crowning glory as national schoolboy champion in the under-77kg division came on the platform of a total of 221kg of the three disciplines, a 20kg breather from his nearest rival.

For the first time Hastings Boys sent a competitor to the Secondary School Weightlifting Nationals, in Auckland. Although it is a sport that has been around for quite some time, it has only recently been promoted in schools.

He found the pregnant pauses at the weightlifting nationals, amid some tactical manoeuvring from mentors, somewhat unsettling at times but his resilience came through with a few adjustments, as one would find among pedigree sports people.

"It's strange because I'm just used to getting up and doing things quickly but I got used to it in the end."

Ollie Clinton in his zone for another lift on his way to becoming the NZSSC under-77kg champion in Auckland last weekend. Photo/@FitographyNZ, Joe McPhee
Ollie Clinton in his zone for another lift on his way to becoming the NZSSC under-77kg champion in Auckland last weekend. Photo/@FitographyNZ, Joe McPhee

Clinton says he is coming to terms with the frequent warm-ups while playing the waiting game.

"There are a lot of mind games that the coaches play against each other. They try to give you an advantage over each other.

"They write down what to do and I just go out there and try to do it."

Enter Clinton's mentor, Ray Everest, of Mt Maunganui, who he came across because of crossfit.

"He's a great coach. I probably wouldn't have won it without him," says the former Hastings Intermediate pupil who arrived from St Mary's Primary School in Tauranga when he was 6 before enrolling at St Joseph's School in Hastings.

The teenager is already psyching himself up for the senior New Zealand weightlifting championship in Auckland on September 22-23 while bracing for a crossfit competition in Hamilton on Saturday, September 15.

"My dad's real proud and he helps me along the way and I don't live with my mum but she supports me in any way that she can," he says.

His father, Duane Clinton, is the head of maths department at HBHS while mother Vicki Semple, of Tauranga, is the director/co-ordinator of the Aims Games.

"I have four half-brothers from my mum so they are all sporty and competitive and that helps me quite a lot."

Needless to say, HBHS is hoping Clinton's accomplishments will rub off on more schoolboys, not to mention push weightlifting into the physical education grid for the long haul.