Crossfit Boon leads to Commonwealth Games return8 Sep 2017
She made her Commonwealth Games debut as a 14-year-old gymnast, now Alethea Boon is set to return to elite competition 20 years later in a completely different sport.
Competing at three Commonwealth Games is a rare feat for any athlete, but Boon’s mission to represent New Zealand at GC2018 takes impressive achievements to an entirely new level.
The 33-year-old first competed for New Zealand at the Kuala Lumpur 1998 Commonwealth Games, when she was just 14. She represented her country again in Manchester in 2002 and was a reserve member of the Olympic team at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
After the Manchester Games, the all-rounder moved to the United States to join the gymnastics program at Brigham Young University, but at 24 and after a decade of competing, decided to retire from the sport.
When most would consider this the end of an illustrious career, she found weightlifting serendipitously, almost six years later.
"I found CrossFit at the age of 30, which introduced me to weightlifting," Boon told GC2018.com.
"I found I was terrible at weightlifting, I was absolutely terrible, but I wanted to get better at it so I thought, why not put myself in a weightlifting comp and get better."
A formidable combination of raw athletic talent and relentless determination has seen Boon defy the odds many times before. In her first year in CrossFit she competed at the 2015 CrossFit Games, placing 20th and being crowned the second fittest woman in the Australasia region.
Suffering a devastating Achilles rupture during the 2016 CrossFit Games, Boon stunned fans once again, placing 21st at the 2017 CrossFit Games in August, mere months after surgery.
Just four weeks later, the 160cm athlete competed in the 2017 Commonwealth and Oceania Weightlifting Championships on the Gold Coast, posting an 80kg snatch and getting 96kg above her head in the clean and jerk.
She missed out on an automatic qualification in the 58kg category, which was awarded to gold medallist, Solomon Islands’ Jenly Tegu Wini, but Boon is focused on what’s next – GC2018.
"The opportunity to come to Commonwealths came up and I thought yep, hell yep, I’ll throw my name in the hat," she said.
"I was feeling a bit unwell so unfortunately I didn’t hit the numbers I wanted to. But it’s an opportunity to learn so I’m looking forward to the next stage which is the Commonwealth Games. I can’t believe it, I’m actually so excited about it.
"This is just a competition to tick the box, and now the prep starts."
She’s expecting her return to the world stage to feel very different.
"I think as an adult now, I can actually look at it with a bit of a better perspective. I think I’m ready to compete now, mentally prepared and know how exciting it is and I know what I need to do to prepare in order to compete well so I’m so looking forward to it," she said.
Now that she’s swapped gymnastics bars for the heavier variety, Boon says her experience at the elite level has led her to take on a mentor role to junior athletes.
"I can’t help but just drop a little bit of advice because I know that when I was that age, I didn’t really have that. So whatever advice I can have or help that I can offer, I just do it."
Her advice is simple.
"Have fun," she said.
"Because everyone gets so caught up in [thinking] I have to lift this, I have to make this lift. But we do it because we enjoy it. If you enjoy what you do, you perform better. So if you can put people in that type of mind frame, everyone does well."
Will Alethea make the treble at GC2018? You might see her alongside fellow 58kg athlete and CrossFit competitor, Tia-Clair Toomey in April 2018. GC2018 Weightlifting tickets are still available. Visit our tickets page.