Former Ashburton College student Hayley Whiting will represent New Zealand in weightlifting at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham after setting a new national record and edging a rival who has outshone her over the last few years.
The 29-year-old, who is based in Mount Maunganui, lifted 125kg in the clean and jerk and 98kg in the snatch in the women’s 87kg class at a recent international event held in Auckland.
The combined total of 223kg was 1kg better than her main rival Kanah Andrews-Nahu, who represented New Zealand at last year’s Olympics.
Hayley said she was thrilled with her victory and was excited and planning for Birmingham.
“Kanah’s had the better of me over the last three or four years, so it’s nice to win when it counted.”
Hayley eclipsed the New Zealand clean and jerk record set earlier by her rival of 122kg and in the process claimed the one spot available on the New Zealand team.
She goes into the Commonwealth Games as the number four ranked lifter in her division in the commonwealth.
Hayley got involved with Crossfit while studying physiotherapy at Otago University and gave weightlifting a go.
She started lifting seriously in 2016 and represented New Zealand on multiple occasions despite not having a coach until she met Ray Everest in 2018.
She relocated to Everest’s home town of Mount Maunganui to be able progress in the sport.
Hayley juggles running her own physiotherapy practice called Thrive Physio & Wellness with gym training of 12 to 15 hours a week.
“The time and effort I’ve put in over the last few years has now paid off and I’m just so happy.”
Hayley said she had grown mentally stronger in recent months and had greater belief in herself and her abilities.
“Doing all the physical stuff is easy in a lot of ways, but getting the mental side right is where I’ve struggled in the past.”
Hayley said weightlifting was a ruthless sport.
“You have six minutes on the platform and three attempts at each discipline, so the pressure is on to deliver.”
Hayley was a talented sprinter at Ashburton College and also played for the college’s top netball team.
She is 1.7m tall and weighs 83kg.
Most of her family, including mum Maxine and dad Kerry, as well as a number of her friends, live in Ashburton.
They will all be cheering her on as she sets her sights on a medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, which run from July 28 to August 8.
-By Mick Jensen