College Sport Media is dedicated to telling the story of successful young sportspeople in New Zealand
Tai Wānanga Year 13 student Kaeley Elkington won a silver medal in weightlifting at the Youth Commonwealth Games in Samoa last week, in just her second international competition.
College Sport Media caught up with Hamilton student Kaeley about her week in Samoa competing and supporting the rest of the New Zealand team, and about her first sport of CrossFit in which she is a national champion and has competed to an elite level in.
Congratulations on the recent trip away to Samoa representing New Zealand and the silver medal you won – did you meet or exceed your expectations?
Yes. I was hoping for a bronze after seeing some of the people's totals I was competing against. So achieving silver exceeded my expectations.
Please briefly explain to us about the competition/division you entered in in Samoa and the one you medalled in?
I competed in the youth Under 63kg category (14-18 years old) at the fifth Youth Commonwealth Games. In Olympic Weightlifting you are to complete two movements. First is the 'Snatch', second is the 'Clean and Jerk'. You get three attempts on both movements.
How much did you lift and what’s your record and did you break any records?
1ST ATTEMPT: 59kg
2ND ATTEMPT: 62kg
3RD ATTEMPT: 65kg (NZ Youth AND Junior record, which hasn't been broken since 2010. This is also my platform personal best.)
Clean and Jerk
1ST ATTEMPT: 75kg
2ND ATTEMPT: 78kg
3RD ATTEMPT: 80kg (got the clean, fainted before the jerk)
Total: 143kg (NZ Youth AND Junior record)
I also currently hold the Youth and the Junior Clean and jerk record, which I broke earlier in the year.
My Clean and jerk Personal best is 80kg (NZ record). My snatch personal best (In training) is 67.5kg.
What about the competition you were up against? What countries won the gold and the bronze and did you know about these competitors beforehand?
I knew I had tough competition as I looked at all the competitor’s total entries; I was going into the competition knowing that I had the chance to podium. I knew the Fijian girl who won gold, as I competed against her in Papua New Guinea. I recently met the English girl who won bronze. Fortunately I was able to watch the girl from England train as the English team trained at the same time as us.
Away from your event, did you get to watch some of the other events at the Youth Commonwealth Games? What was a highlights of the trip outside your competition?
Yes, we had the opportunity to watch some of the other New Zealand athletes compete in their respective areas. Such as, lawn bowls, archery, boxing, squash and swimming. I enjoyed watching the other sports because I was able to learn the rules and compare the differences between weightlifting and other sports. It was also cool supporting my fellow NZ team mates.
I really enjoyed being involved as a competitor on the world stage. I was more confident this time because I was able to have my normal coach with me, and also my family supporting me out in the audience. This time, I was more confident on the stage as this was my second Olympic weightlifting international competition. Another highlight for me was being able to meet one of my favourite weightlifters, Dika Toua, who was the first ever woman to lift weight at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Fortunately, she was one of my judges!
This wasn’t the first time you have represented New Zealand or competed overseas in weightlifting - you placed third in the Oceania Championships in Papua New Guinea recently?
Yes, on July the 9th I competed in Papua New Guinea at the Oceania Championships. This competition was all ages (youth, junior and senior). I got selected as a youth, junior and reserve for senior. I won bronze in the youth section.
Did you get into weightlifting through CrossFit?
Yes, I did. I asked my CrossFit coach if I could learn how to Olympic lift. So she put me on a training program and taught me the lifts. We took a trip to Auckland, to functional strength where I met up with the 2014 commonwealth games gold medallist, Richard (Richie) Patterson who inspired me. He looked at my technique, corrected a few errors and told me that I had potential to be a great lifter. So I trained hard and competed in my first competition in February.
Please briefly explain what you’ve achieved in CrossFit and the trips away for that you’ve been on?
First place - New Zealand Nationals 2013
First place - World regionals teen gauntlet 2013 (In New Zealand)
Fifth place – World regionals teen gauntlet 2013 (In the world)
First place - National Secondary Teen Comp 2013 – (In New zealand)
First place- World regionals teen gauntlet 2014 (In New Zealand)
First place – World regionals teen gauntlet 2014 (In the world)
Second place- teen gauntlet 2014 (In America)
Also, this year in March, I competed in the CrossFit games open in the 16-17 year old division. I placed first in the Australian region (Australia and NZ) and twelfth in the world. I just missed out on going to the CrossFit games as they took the top 10 in the world. I am pretty stoked with that because I hadn’t been training for CrossFit as I was doing weightlifting.
What does crossFit competition consists of – is it like the World CrossFit Games that they show on Sky Sport/ESPN?
Yes, it is exactly like that! What you see on TV is how CrossFit is. You train at your own CrossFit affiliate (CrossFit box).
How much overlap is there in your training between the two sports of weightlifting and CrossFit, are they similar/the same to train for?
This year I focused on Weightlifting and was unable to do any CrossFit at all. This was so that I could focus on the correct Weightlifting technique and build strength. In weightlifting it is crucial to avoid cardio, especially for me as I have to stay in the Under 63kg weight category. I have a fast metabolism so I lose weight quite fast. I would do a workout now and then, but it was important for me not to do too much.
How and when did you get into CrossFit?
I started CrossFit at the end of 2012. My mum had been doing it for a while, so she encouraged me to come along and I instantly became hooked.
Do you have a background in other sports?
Yes, I was a netball player. I was competitive and represented my city. In 2013 I was doing CrossFit as well as netball but the year after that I decided I only wanted to focus on CrossFit because I enjoyed it more and I didn’t want to get injured.
Where do you train and what’s your typical routine?
I train at CrossFit Te Rapa, in Hamilton. I train Monday to Friday and take the weekends as rest days. I train for about two and a half hours every day. My training consists of lifting heavy! I work on both snatch and clean and jerk; I will do a certain amount of reps and sets. I mostly back squat every day and I may do some extra accessory work.
Is nutrition and eating healthy a big part of your sport? How hard is it to stick to that, when all your friends are probably having pizzas and down at KFC and Macdonald’s?
To be honest, I don’t have a strict diet and my coach doesn’t believe I need to go on a diet. I eat mostly what I want. The main foods I eat are all meats, mostly steak and chicken, kumara, pumpkin, salads. I eat a lot of crackers (salt and vinegar). They’re my favourite snack! I will eat takeaways but not too much of it and not every week. I believe cheat meals are okay!
What’s next for you – competing wise?
My last Olympic Weightlifting competition this year is on October the 3rd. This is the New Zealand Olympic weightlifting nationals held in Wellington.
What are you doing next year?
I am going to attend Waikato University to study three years of sport and leisure, and one year to complete my bachelor of teaching. Along with studying, I will be working and training!
What are your long-term goals?
My long term goal for Weightlifting is to go to the 2018 commonwealth games. As well as doing Weightlifting, my main focus from the end of this year through to 2017 will be CrossFit. I want to make regionals for the CrossFit games next year, and the CrossFit games in 2017. I just finished going through my goals with my coach last week in Samoa.