Marlborough weightlifter rockets into games team
Former Marlborough Girls' College student Bailey Rogers has forced her way into the 12-strong Kiwi weightlifting contingent for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next month.
The 23-year-old said she "was absolutely over the moon, to be honest", when told of her selection, especially given her rapid rise to the top of a sport she only seriously took up in November.
"I think the fact that I was just 23 certainly helped my nomination. It's going to be great experience for the next  Commonwealth Games, all things going well."
Rogers needed to be ranked among the top eight in the Commonwealth to make the games selection and she made the grade. She has attended weightlifting events in Malaysia and, a fortnight ago, the Oceania champs in New Caledonia where she improved her lifts each time.
In Glasgow she will perform the snatch and clean and jerk in the 75kg class, the overall totals counting towards final placings. Her best totals at the moment are 85kg in the snatch and a 108kg clean and jerk, with a best overall tally of 190kg.
"I'm still improving, that's the goal. Hopefully in five weeks it's up even more," she added.
After leaving MGC in 2008, Rogers, who swam, played netball, basketball and touch at college, spent five years at Otago University, then a year in Dunedin as a cross-fit instructor before moving to Christchurch, where she is based. She now works for Franks Brothers Gym in the Garden City.
She got into weightlifting through her involvement in cross-fit. Her weightlifting coach initially took Rogers on in October to try to improve her lifting for cross-fit.
"I did a weightlifting competition and they said, ‘you've got the potential to get to the games if you want to give it a shot'." Since November she has shelved her cross-fit competition and been totally involved in weightlifting, with the goal of getting to the Games.
John Moss, high performance manager of Weightlifting New Zealand, said Rogers was a "late bloomer who had put a good campaign together in the past few months, and had huge potential".
He feels that, given her rapid improvement, she has a chance to reach the top six or better in Glasgow.
"She just broke the New Zealand record recently, she certainly deserves to be there."
New Zealand's top weightlifter, Richie Patterson, is back for another crack at gold, and his fiance is Glasgow-bound too.
The Auckland cross-fit business owner, who claimed a silver medal at the Delhi Games four years ago, and also represented New Zealand at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, will go for gold in the 85kg class, and will be joined by fellow Delhi silver medallist Stanislav Chalaev (105kg) in Glasgow.
Patterson's fiance, Phillippa Hale, has also been selected as one of four women on the lifting team.
"I had my heart set on the gold in 2010, and I didn't know if I'd ever have an opportunity to go for it again," said Patterson, who is ranked No 1 in the Commonwealth.
"Glasgow is a chance for me to stand at the very top of the dais."
Patterson won gold in his class at the recent Oceania championships in New Caledonia, where he broke the New Zealand snatch record with a 156kg lift.
Joining Patterson and Chalaev is another lifter with an eye to unfinished business. Beijing Olympian and Delhi Commonwealth Games lifter Mark Spooner has made a comeback from retirement, and is aiming for a Glasgow medal.
A qualified boatbuilder and super-yacht skipper, Spooner has returned to the sport in top form, proving it with a win in his class in the Oceania championships in May.
The men's team also includes 2018 medal potential Matthew Madsen as well as Saxon Gregory-Hunt, the Guinares brothers - Lou and Ianne - and Cody Cole.
"It's a team of national record-breakers and shows the depth in the sport at the moment," Moss said.
"It is our largest team ever, and is also the first time in 40 years that the sport has fielded a full men's team. That's a huge achievement and we'll be going for the team title in Glasgow, too."
THE TEAM Women: Phillipa Hale (53kg), Lauren Roberts (63kg), Bailey Rogers (75kg), Tracey Lambrechs (75+kg). Men: Lou Guinares (56kg), Ianne Guinares (62kg), Mark Spooner (69kg), Cody Cole (69kg), Stanislav Chalaev (105kg), Mathew Madsen (77kg), Richard Patterson (85kg), Saxon Gregory-Hunt (85kg).
- The Marlborough Express