Kiwi weightlifter calls it quits to head off sailing
MARK GEENTY IN GLASGOW
After three Commonwealth Games and one Olympics, New Zealand weightlifter Mark Spooner has called it quits and is going sailing.
The Auckland boatbuilder and qualified superyacht skipper finished sixth in the men's 69kg division today - the exact same placing he filled in Melbourne and Delhi - and promptly announced his retirement at 29.
"I'm 30 at the end of the year; time to move on and do something else. I knew this would be it, one last crack," he said.
"I've been the best shape, no injuries, the body's been really strong. I knew this one was going to be it, but it wasn't there."
Spooner emerged from retirement to have one last crack at Glasgow, and took the past 18 months off work to give it a serious crack.
He lifted 162kg in his second clean and jerk, then was set to attempt 166kg which wasn't enough for a medal. So in his last hurrah he went for 171kg, 1kg more than he'd ever lifted, and a farewell silver medal if successful.
He wasn't, and his total of 288kg was 8kg off the bronze medal position. Malaysia's Mohammad Mansor won with a total of 305kg, including 170kg in his final lift.
"I was happy with 162 and I knew I was capable of doing more, but 171 was a big nudge," Spooner said.
"We talked about going 166 and that would have put me fourth which I wouldn't have been happy with. I had to give that medal chance a crack. It was my last lift, I had to give it everything."
Compatriot Casey Cole finished 10th with a total of 272kg.
Spooner won the Oceania title in May and felt he was in top form, after a pre-Games training camp in Finland. He'd already decided this Games would be his final farewell.
As he mulled over his performance, his top priority was to break his strict diet which kept him under 69kg.
"I'm going to go home and eat. I've got a long list of food that I'm going to have. Desserts mainly."
The water beckoned again in the United States and Spooner wasn't looking back.
"I'm pretty excited for what's ahead of me. I'm going back to work then shoot off to Thailand for a mate's wedding then back to Florida to get back on a boat and go back to yachting. It's exciting times ahead. I gave it one last crack but it's time to move on.
"I've taken 18 months off work which is pretty tough, but I've been so lucky with the support from my family and NZ Weightlifting which has helped a lot.
"I was just going from strength to strength and coming into this in the form of my life but I couldn't put it together on the platform."