The Cybex British Weight Lifting & Para-Powerlifting Championships returned to the Ricoh Arena, Coventry this weekend in what is the biggest domestic competition of the year, where more than 100 lifters battled it out for the coveted title of British Champion in front of the biggest crowd ever recorded at a domestic weightlifting competition.
This year’s competition was also the last chance for the sport’s top athletes to be considered for selection for the Olympic Games, where British Weight Lifting will be sending one male and one female lifter to Rio this summer.
Day one – Saturday 11 June
The competition opened on Saturday morning with the women’s 48kg category, where Commonwealth Youth Games gold medallist Catrin Jones claimed her first British Senior title – and the first gold medal of the weekend – with a total of 139kg.
There was also a first British Senior title for Fraer Morrow; the 2016 English Championships runner-up lifted a combined total of 8kg more than she had done in January’s competition to win the women’s 53kg.
Attention then turned to the men’s competition, where Kristian McPhee and Cathal Byrd won the 77kg and 85kgcategories respectively. Stars for the Future’s Adam Fedorciow won gold in the men’s 105kg, before Brunel’s Andrew Ruegg won the men’s 105+kg, following three failed attempts in the clean and jerk from rival Darius Jokarzadeh.
The afternoon session saw a packed crowd at the Ricoh Arena, where it was standing room only as European Senior medallist Rebekah Tiler went head-to-head with 2016 English Champion Emily Godley in the women’s 69kg.
Europa’s Godley put on a fantastic display, securing three personal bests with 94kg (snatch), 120kg (clean and jerk) and a total of 214kg; however, it wasn’t enough to beat World Youth medallist Tiler who broke her existing British record in the snatch with a lift of 102kg, before lifting 125kg in the clean and jerk and securing a second British record with a gold medal-winning total of 227kg. British Weight Lifting performance scholarship athlete Grace Lilley – who was discovered through the Golden Chance programme – finished in third place with a total of 170kg.
Next up was the women’s 63kg category, where in a surprise result, Leeds Weightlifting Club’s Steph Owens was crowned British Champion, as category favourite Zoe Smith was forced to withdraw due to an injury sustained in her opening lift. Fellow World Class Programme athlete and u23 European Champion Sarah Davies also failed to secure a total, missing all three clean and jerk lifts in an attempt to achieving the Olympic qualification total of 211kg.
The final category of the day was the men’s 94kg, which saw rivals Sonny Webster and Owen Boxall go head-to-head in what was one of the stand-out battles of the day, with both athletes delivering huge personal best performances to the sold-out auditorium.
Boxall came out first, missing his first two snatches at 148kg; a weight that Webster achieved comfortably in his opening lift. Under pressure with just one chance remaining to stay in the competition, Boxall successfully lifted 150kg in his final lift, just 2kg short of Webster’s best lift of 152kg.
Boxall’s opening clean and jerk lift of 184kg was beaten by Webster’s successful attempt at 185kg; both then achieved their second lifts of 188kg and 190kg respectively, with Webster breaking the current u23 British record.
Boxall was next out in the third and final lift, securing 193kg and an impressive total of 343kg; however, it wasn’t enough to beat Webster who lifted a new British u23 record of 194kg in his third lift to win with a total of 346kg.
Day two – Sunday 12 June
Attention turned to para-powerlifting on the morning of the second day, and in what will be one of the final competitions ahead of the Paralympic Games in September, the event welcomed three Rio 2016 athletes as Natalie Blake and Zoe Newson went head-to-head in the women’s 62kg, before IPC World Champion Ali Jawad bid for his eleventh title in the men’s 72kg category.
London 2012 bronze medallist Newson took first place with 96kg and a AH points total of 107.7 in the women’s 62kg, closely followed by four-time Paralympian Blake with a best lift of 101kg and 97.9 points. Third place went to Katie Cooke.
There were two medals for St Mary’s Powerlifting in the women’s 62kg+, as Carine Tchie and Elizabeth Merrick took gold and bronze respectively; silver went to Alfie Wright.
Ali Jawad won his eleventh British title with a best lift of 180kg in the men’s 72kg, with Suffolk Spartans’ Nathaniel Wilding claiming silver with 158kg and St Mary’s Powerlifting’s Ollie Brown in bronze medal position with 155kg.
In the men’s 72kg+, Brett Leahy won gold with 157kg, with Help for Heroes’ athlete Ross Austen in silver with 143kg. Bronze went to Abdullah Khan with a lift of 132kg.
The afternoon’s session switched back to the weightlifting competition, where multiple British record holder and current English Champion Mercy Brown equalled her own British record in of 104kg in the snatch to win thewomen’s 75kg+ British title with a total of 230kg.
There was a tough battle for the men’s 69kg title between Louis Hampton-Jones and current British and English Champion Chris Freebury, which saw Leeds WLT’s Hampton-Jones win his first British Senior title based on bodyweight, with both athletes achieving totals of 257kg.
There was a surprise result in the men’s 62kg as reigning British Champion and British record holder Gareth Evans failed to score a total, having missed out on three attempts at 120kg snatch; a weight he had to get to be in with a chance of achieving the total required for Olympic qualification. Atlas Weightlifting Club’s Haroon Siraj won this category with a total of 222kg.
In the women’s 58kg category, Shila Panjavi retained her British title with a total of 175kg; second place went to British Weight Lifting Performance Scholarship and former Golden Chance programme athlete Laura Hewitt.ewomen’s 75kg category was won by Louise Webster with a total of 183kg, with Kilmarnock’s Georgia Black finishing in second place with a total of 179kg. The men’s 56kg was won by HAWFC’s Seth Casidsid with a total of 182kg.
Commenting on the weekend’s competition, Ashley Metcalfe, British Weight Lifting CEO, said: “The 2016 Cybex British Weight Lifting & Para-Powerlifting Championships were a fantastic showcase for the sport, with packed-out crowds providing a fantastic atmosphere throughout the weekend.
“We’ve worked hard over the last few years to provide our athletes with the best competitive environment possible and in doing so, we aim to bring our domestic competitions in line with the standards experienced internationally to really get the best out of our lifters; this weekend’s competition was no exception, as the Championships delivered yet more British records and outstanding performances, and notably not just from our elite athletes but our up and coming lifters too which was fantastic to see.
“Spectator number rose yet again which is indicative of the growing popularity of the sport and we’ve had fantastic feedback from athletes, coaches and spectators alike; the two days were a fantastic way to lead us into a busy summer of sport as we look forward to cheering on our Olympic and Paralympic representatives in Rio.”