Chris Rae will be competing in the heaviest class, the 105+kg.
The Australian Weightlifting Association has nominated its squad for the Games, led by top-ranked lifters across three men’s divisions and rising stars in the women’s competition.
With strong competitors from nations including Malaysia, India, England and Canada, as well as the emerging threat from Nauru and the Cook Islands among others, the Australian team will have a tough challenge in Melbourne to match the strong medal haul from Manchester.
Chris Rae tops the heaviest category, the 105+ kilogram, where his strongest threat is likely to come from Nauru’s young sensation Itte Detanamo, while Ben Turner will be looking to hold off strong challenges in the 69kg class from Malaysia’s Veteran Muhammad Hidayat and India’s Ramachandran Kalidas.
And Alexsan Karapetyan is considered a strong medal chance in the 94kg despite his division being dominated by strong lifters from England, Canada and New Zealand.
Veteran Yurik Sarkasian, who picked up three golds at Manchester in the 62kg category, steps up to the 69kg class, while his son, David, has been named as a reserve for the team.
Valeria Sarava and Damon Kelly are both considered a chance at picking up medals in the 105kg class and the 105+kg class respectively.
Among the women, rising star Erika Yamasaki will line up in the 48kg category where she will face an uphill battle to out-lift defending champion Kunjarani Devi from India.
And Manchester silver medallist in the 75kg class, Deborah Lovely, will challenge to go one better against tough weightlifters from Nauru, Cameroon and India.
Three Elite Athletes with a Disability have been named for the integrated Powerlifting competition, including Athens Paralympics bronze medallist Darren Gardiner, two-time Paralympian Steve Green and Port Macquarie powerlifter Paul Hyde.
The team, nominated by the Australian Weightlifting Federation (AWF), must still be ratified by the Australian Commonwealth Games Association.
Weightlifters at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games will compete across 16 categories – the Women’s 48, 52, 58, 63, 69, 75 and 75+ kilogram categories, the Men’s 56, 62, 69, 77, 85, 94, 105 and 105+ kilogram classes, and the EAD Open Powerlifting event.
Sixteen gold medals will be presented in the Weightlifting, which will take place at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre from 16-24 March.
The Australian Weightlifting team nominated by the AWF includes:
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).
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