Nicolette Kipling hones her clean and jerk technique for the A & R Memorial Weightlifting Championships. (Michael Briones photo)

Weightlifting competitors take spotlight in Parksville

Some 70 lifters to take part in championship event

Approximately 70 lifters from all around the province will be in Parksville Jan. 11 for the Annual A & R Memorial Weightlifting Championships.

This will be the second time the Olympic-style weightlifting competition will take place at Jim’s Gym on 1222 Industrial Way, Parksville. It will start at 8 a.m. with the finals starting at 6 p.m. in the evening.

It is being organized by EMS Weightlifting Club of Port Alberni, with the assistance of Jim’s Gym and Fergs Weightlifting Club, owned by Parksville weightlifter and coach Ed Fergusson, who at 84 years old still competes in masters weighlifting.

Darren Willis of EMS said the competition always draws good participation as it also serves as a men and women’s qualifying weightlifting meet for BC and Canada Senior Championships. Competitor ages range from 12 to 85.

“Everyone that competes in this event will have a chance to make it to the B.C. provincial team and compete at the Western Canadian championships and then national championships,” said Willis. “So it’s going to be a good competition. We will see some good lifting.”

Ferg’s Club will field three of its members, Nicolette Kipling Ray Kasten and Nick Braun, who will be among the many competitors that include provincially and nationally ranked lifters.

Kipling has been lifting for 10 years. She doesn’t enter competition that much. But since the event is going to be held close to home, she wants to take advantage of it.

READ MORE: Parksville seniors getting stronger with age

“My last competition was two months ago but that was just a fun event,” said Kipling. “It’s been seven years since I competed. So I told myself, why not. Go for it. I would just like to do better than the last time I competed.”

Kipling’s previous lift total was 45 kilograms in the snatch and 55 in the clean and jerk. She aims to improve on that with the goal of achieving 55 kg in the snatch and 72 kg in the clean and jerk.

Willis said the sport has evolved in the last 10 years. Most notable change he noticed is the increasing participation of women in weightlifting.

“It used to be dominated by men,” said Willis. “But in this competition, you will see pretty much 50-50 men and women, which is really a nice improvement in the sport.”

One of the new sporting activities that has also helped boost weighlifting, said Willis is crossfit, a challenging fitness program that combines a wide variety of functional movements into a timed or scored workout. It includes among other things, weightlifting.

“Crossfit has become big on its own over the last 10 years and it has brought more athletes into the sport,” said Willis. “Because weightlifting is one of the core things they do in crossfit and they spend a lot of time learning how to lift properly. And we get them competing here.”

The A&R Memorial Weightlifting Championships have always been held in Port Alberni. Willis said they made a decision to bring it to Parksville because at this time of the year, the weather and road conditions are unpredictable.

“We don’t know if it’s going to snow or what the conditions would be like at The Hump,” said Willis. “Being in Parksville makes the competition a lot more accessible and attracts more participation.”

Willis said they want to express their great appreciation to Jim’s Gym for hosting the championships.

“They have been eager to hold this event,” said Willis. “They went out of their way to accommodate us. They pretty much shut down their gym down for two days which is an inconvenience to their members.”

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