Waking up on competition day for me is always nerve-wracking due to having to drop weight. I wake up in the morning and need to figure out what I can eat or drink before weigh in, and of course that all depends on what my bodyweight is at the time.
For the Commonwealth Games, everything was under control. I woke up with a lowish bodyweight so was able to have a little bit of breakfast and even some coffee. I was excited and looking forward to weigh in and getting the show on the road. Alethea Boon, my teammate, was spending the morning with me – she was in charge of making sure I didn’t tire myself out before getting to the competition, as well as just keeping me company. I’m quite the people person and enjoy a regular good chat.
I arrived at weigh in, made weight easily, which is quite important (if you don’t make weight you don’t get to compete), and was ready to get some more food and coffee in me. Warm ups went really well, things were sharp and looking good. When I stepped up onto the stage it was business as usual, being aware that all my friends and family were there supporting me.
This competition was always going to be a battle for a medal. Considering the weight loss, stress of certain situations and a few body niggles, I was going to need every single lift and personal bests. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, for some reason I was red-lighted for a couple of my lifts (unsure why, if I’m honest with you) and the weights needed were just not there.
After missing my last lift, I took my shoes off on the platform, which in weightlifting is our way of announcing retirement. It wasn’t an easy choice, but it was the right choice. Boy was it emotional, but I knew that my family and friends were there, and I guess as an athlete, firstly, you know when it’s time, and secondly, when would I ever be in this situation with friends and family again? I cried for three days after retiring, not sad tears, just emotional and overwhelmed tears.
Weightlifting has been my everything since 2004, so to now be finished is quite tough. I was so happy and felt so loved by all the support from everyone who messaged me and wished me all the best for retirement. Describing my feelings around the whole campaign is really hard. I can’t describe just one emotion. It’s tough but great, and I’m so happy, but then there are moments when I get quite sad. You develop so many relationships in sport and have so many amazing experiences. I know I’m going to miss out on a lot, but at the same time, I’ll hopefully be experiencing life in a different way.
One thing that I’m truly grateful for is the support I had getting to my fourth Games, not only from my friends and family but from sponsors (GJ Gardner), David Niethe (mental performance coach), Adam Storey (old coach), Tina Ball (new coach), David Liti, Vester Villalon (training partners), gym members and AUT Millennium. They all played a very big role in my career as an athlete and helping me grow as a person.
The only sad thing about my retirement is how New Zealand Weightlifting let me and my teammates down. Their attitudes towards us and the way we were treated was less than ideal. Even more disappointing is the fact that they continue to let down more athletes, even after they were made aware of issues within the organisation. Oh well, I will look to help our future athletes and develop an opportunity for an athlete representative!
Read next month’s blog where I will update you with some exciting opportunities which have presented themselves to me, as well as an interview with one of New Zealand’s most beloved up-and-coming athletes!