Before the New Zealand Secondary School Weightlifting Championships, Crossfit Rotorua was relatively unknown as a weightlifting club.

That all changed last weekend when teenagers Anja Jennings, Promyss Pitman, Jacob Rawles and Awanuiarangi Gardiner took the competition by storm.

Anja took the gold medal in the under-15, under-53kg girls' division and broke national records for both the snatch and the clean and jerk.

Crossfit Rotorua owner and weightlifting coach Munro Waerea said when organisers saw Anja's opening weight, they queried whether there had been a mistake because it was only a few kilograms off the record.

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She ended up building to 52kg and beating the previous record by 1kg. She went on to lift 63kg in the clean and jerk, which was 3kg more than the previous record.

Anja's performance qualified her for the New Zealand Junior Olympic Weightlifting Championships in two weeks.

Crossfit Rotorua's Anja Jennings broke the New Zealand under-15, under-53kg snatch and clean and jerk records at the New Zealand Secondary School Weightlifting Championships. Photo / Supplied
Crossfit Rotorua's Anja Jennings broke the New Zealand under-15, under-53kg snatch and clean and jerk records at the New Zealand Secondary School Weightlifting Championships. Photo / Supplied

The other Crossfit Rotorua lifters also impressed. Promyss finished first in the under-15, under-63kg girls' division, Awanuiarangi won the under-15, under-77kg division and Jacob was fourth in the under-15, under-85kg division.

"Jacob was the youngest and the lightest in his division, so he had a bit of work to do. He beat his snatch PB by 3kg. He managed a 101kg clean and jerk, but lost the bar over head during his 103kg attempt, missing out on a podium spot by 1kg. He has another two years in this group so will be coming back bigger and stronger.

"All four of them broke personal bests, I was really proud. There was intense pressure at the competition, they were in the spotlight, but they handled it well," Waerea said.

Awanuiarangi Gardiner was our 1st of the boys up this morning, with p.b lifts in both Snatch (71kg) CnJ (84kg) Also took out his weight and age class u15, u77kg. Here he is with his 84kg CnJ

Posted by CrossFit Rotorua on Saturday, 1 September 2018

He said competing in a proper competition was a valuable experience. Having only recently become an affiliate of Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand, the Crossfit Rotorua lifters went in as underdogs, but Waerea said he received a lot of positive feedback from judges and competitors.

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"Nobody knew who we were, but they do now. I think there are negative stereotypes around Crossfit and people expecting the technique to be poor, but the people there were blown away by the kids' techniques.

"It was good for them to have a taste of competing. You can do all the training you want, but nothing compares to the real thing. It was great for us to get a gauge of where we are compared to other clubs and what we need to work on," he said.