D Days
H Hours
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until the 2018 Commonwealth Games commence.
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April 4 to 15 2018

Fittest woman on earth ready for GC2018

22 Feb 2018 by Andrew Bryan

She’s the fittest woman on earth, but Olympic weightlifter Tia-Clair Toomey didn’t even know what a snatch was before she started competing in CrossFit.

If it wasn’t for CrossFit, Toomey would not have lived out her childhood dream of representing Australia at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

But if it wasn’t for weightlifting, she may never have been crowned the fittest woman on the planet.

It is this symbiotic relationship and the incredible partnership between Toomey and her husband Shane that has propelled her to the top of the sporting world.

“Throughout school I was heavily involved in running and I always looked up to the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games and it was the most incredible thing,” Toomey told GC2018.com.

“I really loved sport and all I ever dreamed of was to be part of the Australian team and representing my country.

“I thought it would have been for running and athletics, how wrong I was. When I found weightlifting in 2013 through CrossFit, it comes across a little corny, but I think weightlifting chose me.

“It wasn’t something I was good at, when I started CrossFit I discovered what the snatch and clean and jerk was. Don’t get me wrong, I kind of knew what it was, but I never totally understood the movements or the skill set that was required for the sport.

“I had to learn the technique properly so I could do better at CrossFit.

"If it wasn't for the support from my husband Shane, I wouldn’t be here today. It is funny how it all started, and I think they were experiences I learnt from. If it didn’t start that way, maybe I wouldn't have been so hungry and determined to give it a go. ”

Toomey took out the world CrossFit Games in 2017 after finishing runner-up in 2015 and 2016.

But she didn’t always love the sport. In fact, when she first started, she actively hid from the coach.

It wasn’t exactly an audacious start.

Little did she know that a little perseverance would lead to a moment that would profoundly change the course of her life.

It was the catalyst to becoming both the fittest woman on the planet and an Olympian.

In her first ever individual CrossFit competition, Toomey registered a 30kg personal best on the clean and jerk.

It was a staggering result.

“I built the courage to sign up for my own individual competition, and I was still learning my technique for weightlifting and understanding the technique,” she said.

“When I got to the PB ladder, there was a clean and jerk, mixed with air squats and burpees between each rep. Prior to that competition, my max clean and jerk was about 55kg. I went in there with no expectations and trying to go as far as I could.

“Before I knew it I was at the end of the ladder, I was able to stay calm and go through the motion and believe in myself and it was amazing what the adrenalin does when you are in a competition. I ended with a PB of about 30kg.

“That was something I was amazed about and the fact that I believed in myself. That is where everything started for me.”

Toomey was approached by weightlifting coach Miles Wydall soon after, who not only identified that she had the potential to go to the Olympics, but had the unwavering belief that she would.

After just 18 months in the sport, Toomey lived out a lifelong dream and represented Australia at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

It speaks volumes to her natural talent, but also her dedication, sacrifice and competitive spirit.

“The coach that reached out to me, he believed I had enough strength and if I could work out technique, I could get to the Olympics,” she said.

“For someone I didn’t even know to show that much support and belief in me was really special and I think that gave me the drive to pursue and really go after the Olympics.

“For Miles to come and believe in us and reassure that I have the ability to do that was pretty special. We hold Miles very close to us, he is a very important part of my journey and someone that I really value these days.”

Now the 2017 World CrossFit champion has turned her attention to the GC2018 weightlifting competition.   

“The priority is definitely the Commonwealth Games right now,” she said.

“I’m focussing more on my strength and technique. I don’t think that will affect my CrossFit, because you need that in CrossFit as well.

“If it wasn’t for CrossFit, I would never have fulfilled my dreams of competing at the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games, so I’m absolutely satisfied when it comes to the accomplishments I’ve achieved.

“It gives me even more motivation to keep going and see how far I can take it and I’m enjoying the process.

“Weightlifting is a large component of CrossFit, so if I can be as strong as anything, I know I am going to be able to stand my ground against athletes who are very strong competing in CrossFit, I also believe CrossFit is very beneficial to weightlifting. Not only am I working on my CrossFit technique, I’m also getting fitter.”

Related: CrossFit Boon leads to Commonwealth Games return 

Toomey finished 14th in the 58kg category at the Olympics and was disappointed with her performance. But she’s determined to put in place what she learned from the experience in front of what will no doubt be a parochial and familiar crowd on the Gold Coast.

“I think I’ll be feeling the nerves, because I’ll have absolutely everyone there that is important to me,” she said.

“It’ll be in front of my home crowd, I think it will work to my advantage. The excitement of having everyone there in the arena will enhance the adrenalin and hopefully I can deliver on the day.

“CrossFit has really helped my weightlifting in the sense that I am able to stay focused for the duration of the event.

“When people start to get fatigued throughout their snatch and they are yet to have their clean and jerk, I’ve been able to develop my fitness and my endurance side of things and I’m able to still produce good quality numbers, because I’m not as fatigued.”

Buy tickets to see Tia-Clair in action in the 58kg category on Friday 6 April.

Tia-Clair Toomey on: starting CrossFit

“It can be quite daunting, a lot of people don’t like to get uncomfortable, they don’t like to put themselves in that hurt locker, that is what a CrossFit workout does.

“People have to realise that CrossFit has been around way longer than the name CrossFit.

"People are working out, they are getting active and doing things and that is basically what CrossFit is all about. Trying to build fitness and add variety into training routines and get the heartrate up and that is what will make you fitter and healthier.

“If people can find the right environment that they feel comfortable in - because not every CrossFit gym is going to be right for everyone - it is going to be something that will benefit your health and create new friendships.

“It can be very daunting when you start, but you have to have a good reason to help motivate you to keep going.

“For me it is about trying to help others and motivate others to follow their dreams and aspirations and help them back their own ability and stay focused on what they want to achieve. I feel like I got that opportunity and I want them to feel the same.”

Related: The new wave of weightlifting

Competing at the Olympics

“It was an incredible experience competing on the biggest stage of world sport. I definitely had goose bumps putting on the jersey and going through the experiences of weighing in and prepping up.

“To have my family in the crowd was even more nerve-racking, because I really wanted to perform in front of them.

“As much as I knew I wasn’t competing for a medal at the Olympics, it was more putting pressure on myself to perform at my absolute best. It is very hard to go out there and - emotions and nerves aside - to pull out your absolute best when everything is heightened.

“Having those experiences and understanding, whatever happens on the day, that is the best I could have done for that particular day, I have to be happy with that, if I know deep down I did my absolute best.

“At the Olympics, I don’t think I understood that, I hadn’t experienced that in the past. Going into the Commonwealth Games, I have to focus on my performance now.”

Tia-Clair Toomey competes during the Women's 58kg weightlifting contest at he Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Tia-Clair Toomey competes during the Women's 58kg weightlifting contest at he Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Winning the CrossFit Games

“We worked for it for so long and put in so much hard work. It was something we wanted to achieve together. It was quite rewarding. It was actually quite a huge relief. No matter what happens from now on, I’ve made my career as an athlete.

“There is a lot of relief with that, but also a lot of hunger and desire to have that feeling again, it was a feeling like no other and something I’ll always remember.

“Every time I go to training, I’m training so I can feel that reward again, because it was all the hard work and sacrifice, that feeling is so special.”

Buy tickets to see Tia-Clair in action in the 58kg category on Friday 6 April.

The Australian GC2018 Weightlifting Team:

Women’s competition:

Alyce Stephenson – 48k Category
Tegan Napper – 53k Category
Tia-Clair Toomey – 58k Category
Seen Lee – 63k Category
Philippa Malone – 69k Category
Stephanie Davies – 75k Category
Kaitlyn Fassina – 90k Category
Deborah Acason – +90k Category

Men’s competition:

Phillip Liao – 56kg Category
Vannara Be – 62kg Category
Brandon Wakeling – 69kg Category
Francois Etoundi – 77kg Category
Boris Elesin – 85k Category
Simplice Ribouem – 94kg Category
Ridge Barredo – 105kg Category
Damon Kelly – +105kg Category

Buy tickets to see Tia-Clair in action in the 58kg category on Friday 6 April. 

Buy Tickets to see weightlifting

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