Patterson puts things right with Glasgow gold
NATHAN BURDON IN GLASGOW
Auckland's Richie Patterson laid a few demons to rest and established his place in New Zealand weightlifting history with victory at the Commonwealth Games yesterday morning.
Patterson was so disappointed with his silver medal in the 85kg class at the Delhi Games four years ago that he stepped away from competing for six months.
It wasn't all bad, one of the lifters he started coaching during that period is now his fiance and he and Phillipa Hale will get married at Glasgow's heritage listed Pollok House later this week.
Hale broke a New Zealand record and finished sixth in her 53kg class in Glasgow.
''Me meeting Pip spurred me to carry on, 'cause I had a training partner and life then revolved around weightlifting because we opened a gym,'' Patterson, who competed at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, said.
''It allowed me to continue a professional career and be an athlete. Qualifying for London and then competing at London gave me huge motivation to be back here and I've always said I wanted to be remembered in weightlifting. We are 40 years on from the '74 Commonwealth Games, which was our most successful.''
Patterson was excited about being able to place his name in the same class as middleweight Tony Ebert and 110kg class lifter Graham May, both gold medallists at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch.
''One of my gym members is Tony Ebert, and he's been behind me this whole journey and I'm just so stoked to join that elite group of New Zealand weightlifters. It's been a dream my whole weightlifting career.''
The dream came uncomfortably close to becoming a nightmare when Patterson failed with his first two attempts at the 184kg clean and jerk he'd set himself to win the competition.
He had actually lifted the weight the second time, but couldn't get the nod from the three judges.
''I was deemed a slight elbow press out. I looked at it on the replay and I think it was more of a shoulder, but you take it. The judges are here to judge and there's technical rules and you have to go by them,'' he said.
After calming himself down backstage, Patterson emerged and managed to heave the weight towards the roof of the Clyde Auditorium and hold on for the win with a combined total of 335kg.
It wasn't a perfect lift, but it was a perfect result.
India's Vikas Thakur won silver, and Canadian Pascal Plamondon bronze, while Christchurch's Saxon Gregory-Hunt was ninth in his Games debut with a snatch of 130kg and a clean and jerk of 165kg for a 295kg total.
Patterson now hopes to push on until at least the next Commonwealth Games, to be staged on the Gold Coast.
''Because my life is so revolved around weightlifting, like I'm vice-president of New Zealand weightlifting, I own a gym, I [do] weightlifting club, I coach all these athletes, it's something you just can't quit. As long as my body's healthy I'll probably keep lifting,'' he said.
''It's so appealing that Gold Coast, because it's such a home event really. We'll have so much support there that in four years I hope to be on top of that podium again and defend it.''