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An unforgettable Ashgabat experience for Wakeling

22 September 2017

ASHGABAT 2017: Brandon Wakeling has secured a top-10 result as Australia’s first weightlifter at the Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games (AIMAG).

Competing in the A Group of the 69kg category, Wakeling lifted 114kg in the snatch and 154kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 268kg and a strong eighth place finish.

Ashgabat 2017 was the 23-year-old’s international debut and an experience he is not likely to forget any time soon.

“Out of all the competitions I have done, by far this has been the most enjoyable because of the mere scale of the event,” he said.

“It was definitely a unique experience compared to what I am used to. I had never competed against all the other countries involved, or competed in front of crowds that big or with the international media.

“They’re definitely things I’m not used to but I’m going to have to get used to them with bigger competitions in my future, so it was a good test run.”

His competition was just over a week after the Commonwealth and Oceania Championships which were held in his home city on the Gold Coast.

The Queenslander won silver in the Oceania Championships and placed fifth in the Commonwealth, but sustained a shoulder injury in his last clean and jerk which was troubling him leading into this tournament.

“I couldn’t clean and jerk or squat for the week leading into the Ashgabat Games and I wasn’t able to go heavy in other areas of training, which didn’t give me that much preparation for the competition.

“Fortunately, on the platform I didn’t really feel it because the adrenaline took over, but I missed keeping the flow of the lifts going in training.”

The men’s 69kg weightlifting gold medal went to China’s Shiwei Deng with a total of 327kg, followed by Doston Yokubov from Uzbekistan with 316kg, and Kazakhstan’s Mahmoud Alhumayd rounded out the podium with 307kg.

Having only taken up the sport in August 2015, the former rugby league player said he has learnt some valuable lessons at the Games in Turkmenistan.

“There was a lot of things I definitely took out of it, especially not having a perfect competition which I think is actually more beneficial in the long run," he said.

“Technically I have a better idea of what to eat when traveling overseas, and when to sleep and all those things I need to take into consideration when competing outside of Australia.”

Competition aside, the entire Ashgabat experience will be memorable for Wakeling.

“When I went to the Opening Ceremony I had no idea I was going to march in a packed stadium.

“I thought it would be a little speech out in the middle of an oval somewhere, but having the stadium filled out with around 45,000 people was crazy!

“The only thing that would beat that in terms of magnitude would be the Olympics.”

The weightlifting competition continues Friday with Jocelyne Francken representing Australia in the women’s 69kg category.

Georgia Thompson

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