Yourik Sarkisian of Australia in the Mens Up to 62kgs Weightlifting Final at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games.
Manchester gold medallists Yourik Sarkisian and Alexsan Karapetyan have been confirmed as the powerhouses of the fifteen member Australian Commonwealth Games Weightlifting team
The Australian Commonwealth Games Association has announced the final team for the Games, based on the recommendations of the Australian Weightlifting Federation, which will see plenty of Games experience on show in Melbourne.
Four other 2002 team members - Chris Rae, Natasha Baker, Amanda Phillips and Deborah Lovely will participate in their second consecutive Games, whilst Victorian Simon Heffernan makes his return from Kuala Lumpur after missing Manchester.
For Sarkisian and Rae it will be their third Games, both having represented Australia in Kuala Lumpur, where each won the overall silver medal, and in Manchester, where Rae was third in the snatch whilst Sarkisian took all three golds available in the 62kg class.
Sarkisian, whose son, David has been named as one of the team’s reserves, will move up to the 69kg class for Melbourne and at 45 years of age will be the veteran of the squad.
Rae comes to Melbourne ranked number one in the Commonwealth in the 105+kg class, a ranking he shares with Karapetyan in the 94kg category and Games debutante Ben Turner in the 69kg class.
Lovely will have her eyes set on bettering her result in Manchester, when she collected all three silver medals then available in the 75kg category.
The youngest member of the team is 18 year old Queenslander, Erika Yamasaki, who will compete in the 48kg class where she will face the might of the defending champion, India’s Kunjarani Devi, who dominated her rivals in 2002.
The men’s line-up is completed by Damon Kelly and Valeria Sarava, both of whom have medal chances in the heavier categories, and young lifter Joel Wilson, while Belinda van Tienan, Nadeene Latif and Jacqueline White round out the women’s challenge.
Three Elite Athletes with a Disability have been named for the integrated powerlifting competition, led by Athens Paralympics bronze medallist Darren Gardiner. He will be joined by two-time Paralympian Steve Green and Port Macquarie’s Paul Hyde.
Australia Commonwealth Games Association CEO Perry Crosswhite said Australia could not expect the same sort of medal haul it had in Manchester, mainly because each category will have only one medal on offer, rather than three.
“Medals will obviously be harder to come by this year, with no possibility for a single athlete to win more than one medal, “ he said. “Weightlifting is strong in many parts of the Commonwealth - thirteen countries won medals in 2002, with India topping both the gold and overall medal tallies, and nations like Cameroon, Malaysia, Nauru and Samoa making an impact alongside the traditional powers. Our task is getting harder every Games.”
Melbourne marks the second appearance of both male and female categories, and also the reinstatement of a traditional medals system in which one gold is awarded to the overall winner in each category, rather than individual medals for snatch, clean and jerk and all round.
Medals will be contested in 15 categories – eight for men and seven for women, with a single Powerlifting event for Elite Athletes with a Disability also on show.
Women: Erika Yamasaki, Natasha Barker, Jacqueline White, Deborah Lovely, Nadeene Latif, Amanda Phillips, Belinda van Tienen. Reserves: Maria Tsoukalis, Nicole Sawon.
Men: Ben Turner, Alexsan Karapetyan, Chris Rae, Valerie Sarava, Joel Wilson, Simon Heffernan, Damon Kelly, Yourik Sarkisian, Darren Gardiner, Steven Green, Paul Hyde. Reserves: David Sarkisian, Max Dal Santo, Wayne Sharpe.
Head Coaches: Luke Borreggine, Ray Epstein (EAD).
Coaches: Sevdalin Marinov, Michael Keelan, Steve Tikkanen, Martin Leach (EAD).
Weightlifting at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games will run at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre from 16 – 24 March with a different weight category each day.
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