It was a matter of seconds after finishing fourth on the Gold Coast that weightlifter Bailey Rogers decided to spend the next 1571 days working towards her goal of a Commonwealth Games medal.

Rogers stepped up for her first attempt at the snatch in the 75kg event at the Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre. 88kg was waiting on the bar. It was 13kg more than she successfully lifted four years earlier in Glasgow when she finished seventh in a nine women field – a sign of how much she'd improved…if she could lift it.

She failed with her first attempt and then with her second. Just like she did in Glasgow during her Commonwealth Games debut she needed a successful lift just to keep her competition alive – or would leave with nothing to show.

Weightlifting is an unforgiving sport. "88kg weighs 88kg whether you feel like crap or not," says her coach Simon Kent. Four years of hard graft down to one lift. Talk about pressure.


Rogers was successful and remained in the competition but then failed with her first clean and jerk attempt. Pressure once again returned. After lifting 112kg on her second attempt to sit fourth, Rogers and Kent had a big decision to make for her final attempt of the competition – attempt a lift well beyond her personal best and go for a medal, or make that personal best but settle for fourth? It turned out to be the latter.

The 27-year-old finished with a total of 204kg – a New Zealand record in the clean and jerk but three kgs shy of bronze medalist Laura Hughes of Wales. Three kgs – that's a new born baby, a sack of potatoes or half your carry-on luggage. For Rogers it meant fourth. Dreaded fourth, the first place outside of the medals.

They say fourth is the ultimate let down but for Bailey Rogers it has proven to be the ultimate motivator. Rogers couldn't wait to start training again. Which doesn't only mean hundreds of hours training but also thousands of dollars out of her own pocket.

"I was a little disappointed with my efforts I was like 'great now I know what I need to do, I know what effort I have to put in and I want to start right now. I don't want to waste any time'," Rogers told the Herald.

Commonwealth Games weightlifter Bailey Rogers in her Epsom Cross Fit gym. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Commonwealth Games weightlifter Bailey Rogers in her Epsom Cross Fit gym. Photo / Jason Oxenham

"The moment I lost the bronze medal…straight away I knew my body would need a bit of time off but pretty much from then and there I thought 'right. This is go time. My fire is lit, it's time to work. I don't want to miss out on this again'".

So it begins. Another Commonwealth Games cycle.

The Tokyo Olympics is also a possibility and due to new regulations there is a potential pathway with Kiwis to make Olympic weightlifting field while drug takers have been discouraged. Athletes now must appear in six international events to ensure qualification - but that pathway means travelling and that means money. Something weightlifting doesn't have. So the Commonwealth Games, roughly 1577 days after her Gold Coast competition remains the focus.

Weightlifting isn't exactly high on High Performance Sport New Zealand's priority list. We're not talking about a piece of the $36.055m pie invested into New Zealand sports this year, weightlifting gets more like the crumbs.

The sport was given $20,000 per year for two years in the lead-up to Gold Coast as part of campaign funding. They aren't expecting that to change. It didn't help that the sport returned just one medal at the Games - courtesy of David Liti's gold in the +105kg event.

A bit of luck and it could have easily been more. Laurel Hubbard was injured while leading her event, defending champion Richie Patterson just 'forgot how to lift' and fellow medallist Stanislav Chalaev withdrew with dehydration while sitting fifth after the snatch.

Kent, the high performance director for Weightlifting New Zealand and coach out of the Papatoetoe Weightlifting Olympic Club, points out Gold Coast was Rogers' seventh international event, two of which have been the Commonwealth Games after a seventh in Glasglow. The athlete who took silver this year was competing in her 26th competition.

"How do you learn in those environments when the Catch-22 is how do we get our athletes there when again, not that I want money to be-all and end-all, but at least enable us to send athletes to world championships and other meaningful meets and gain that international experience," Kent says.

"So then how do you fit in 10 training sessions, your recovery on top of that, plus you're living in Auckland so you've got to try and make enough money and put a roof over my head and petrol in the car?

"I try and stay away from the word sacrifice. I try to use the term investment. It's semantics but it's just the connation that you're making the choice. Instead of sacrificing going out with your mates, you're choosing to invest in what you want to pursue, an opportunity to be great."

Rogers, who got into weightlifting through Cross Fit while studying at Otago University, owns CrossFit Propolis in Epsom and represented New Zealand in two world events last year. But the next four years the focus will be solely on weightlifting. 10 training sessions a week – that's her investment. Her choice. Any spare time at work is used to enhance her skills.

"I went over there trying to get a certain total and trying to have certain expectations of myself and then once I realised I was only three kilos away from getting a medal – and then losing out by three kilos – that's something that I never want to feel again. Losing out but being so close, it wasn't a very nice feeling.

"I have come back with so much motivation and so much fire to train as hard as I can. I'm not ready to take a step back yet. I'll be 31 at the next Commonwealth Games and… feel I've still got lots in the tank to give. Not ready to give up yet."