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Manaena gets her gold medals delivered by courier

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 05/11/2012
 Invercargill Powerlifter Sonia Manaena with her collection of World Cup medals.
NICOLE GOURLEY/Fairfax NZ

ALL POWER TO HER: Invercargill Powerlifter Sonia Manaena with her collection of World Cup medals.

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She may have missed out on an official medal ceremony at the Powerlifting World Cup but Invercargill champion powerlifter Sonia Manaena will have a chance to shine in front of a home crowd at the Civic Theatre this week.

Manaena won the open heavyweight silver medal at the World Powerlifting Championships in Sweden in June, but was promoted to first after the Russian winner, Irina Yaroshenko, failed a drug test.

A courier delivered her medals, which she called her babies, on Friday but she has refused to wear them around her neck until her ceremony on Thursday evening.

She had got nervous because the medals were taking a long time to arrive.

"They phoned to tell me there was a glitch and it would take longer than expected. There had been some difficulty retrieving the medals from Russia and officials had missed a connection to swap the medals."

The International Powerlifting Federation knew Manaena's medal ceremony had been planned, so they minted new gold medals for her.

Manaena was sad she missed the official ceremony and the chance to hear God Defend New Zealand as the flag was raised on the first podium.

"That was my biggest disappointment. I have been lifting for seven years now and that is what you do it for. All the ups and downs are for that one moment . . . It would have been my first time."

However, she felt it was also a privilege to celebrate the medal presentation in her home town.

Manaena thanked all her sponsors and the Invercargill City Council for making it possible to celebrate winning the gold with her family, friends and supporters.

"Southlanders are always supportive and are great at celebrating achievements in sport," she said.

Valerie Adams would be in Invercargill on Wednesday to promote her book but had a busy schedule and could not make the ceremony.

However, they would make some time to catch up, she said.

"Val told me she wanted to be there but she would be watching . . . she said to me, ‘it's your time sis, enjoy'."

At the ceremony she would be thinking about her dad and older brother who were no longer with her, she said.

She would also be thinking about all the hard work she and her coach Brian Jenkins had put in to win the medals.

The presentation ceremony will be held at the Civic Theatre on Thursday at 6.50pm.

New Zealand Powerlifting Federation president Steve Lousich will present Ms Manaena with her four medals: overall gold, raw deadlift (world record) gold, squat gold and silver bench lift.

After the ceremony she plans to up her training because she has been invited to compete in the exclusive Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic, which the man himself will attend.

"I am training about four days each week now but my programme will be stepped up after the ceremony, it's time to turn the page," she said.

collette.devlin@stl.co.nz

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- The Southland Times

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