Kelly back in winner's circle after missing Rio Olympic selection
12 September 2016
WEIGHTLIFTING: Two-time Olympian Damon Kelly has won gold at the Australian Weightlifting Championships at his first major competition since missing selection for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Although Kelly lifted well below his personal best, he executed six perfect lifts and said he was pleased to be so solid after a challenging couple of months.
“After Fiji I had a little bit of a back and a knee injury with took me a few weeks to get over, so I’ve only been back training for a couple of weeks,” Kelly said.
“It was like a rollercoaster after Fiji because it was such a close attempt to make it. It was pretty hard at the start, and then coming home it probably took a couple of weeks to let it settle down mentally.
“But I’ve always been thinking of Gold Coast 2018, ever since they announced it, so I’ve been using that as a distraction.”
There were also plenty of other good signs for Australian weightlifting, with 2014 Commonwealth Games athletes Tegan Napper and Kylie Lindbeck both making welcome returns to competition, and a strong performance from 2012 Olympian, Seen Lee.
Napper and Lindbeck have both been battling injury since Glasgow 2014, but looked untroubled on their way to winning the 58 and 75kg categories respectively.
Napper, who has battled a knee injury, said it was frustrating watching on from the sidelines.
“Initially it’s pretty upsetting and disappointing because you work so hard to get on the team and you are part of the team, but then you get over that and you just want to do your best to get back to where you were,” Napper said.
“So it is disappointing, it is pretty hard to watch everyone else doing well when you’re sitting on the sideline, but now I’m not.”
Lee impressed even herself in winning the women’s 63kg division with a 192kg total, lifting the heaviest weights she’s lifted for several years.
“It’s a really big total, the first time I’ve done above 190kg for three years, and a kilo off the total I did in Delhi in 2010,” Lee said.
“I genuinely enjoy lifting. I enjoy training, but competitions are stressful and I don’t really need that stress in my life, but I think that’s a big driving factor for me.
“When I speak to other athletes, they don’t seem to enjoy training as much as I do. And to come out and win national championships, that’s a cherry on top for me.”
Others to impress included World Championship lifter, Kaitlyn Fassina, winning gold in the 75+ division at her first major competition since the birth of her first child, and Sydney Roosters strength and conditioning coach, Sam Kennedy, who won gold in the men’s 94kg.
Kelly will lead the Australian team at the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championships in Penang next month.