The first Australian Team members for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games have been selected with the country's 11-person weightliftingannounced.
With under 100 days to go before the Opening Ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games gets underway on July 8, Australia has announced its weightlifting team, with the nation's first 11 athletes - of an expected total 425 athletes to represent the country at the multi-sport event - selected.
Australian Team Chef de Mission Petria Thomas OAM expressed her excitement at announcing the 11 weightlifters who are bound for Birmingham.
"We're delighted to announce our 11 weightlifters, the first Australian Team Members officially selected to compete at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games," Thomas said.
"Our weightlifters are definitely ones to keep your eye on come August, with an exciting mix of returning alumni, some who are making their Commonwealth Games debut and two weightlifters who are representing Australia at the Commonwealth Games for the first time.
"Australia has enjoyed a great history in weightlifting at the Commonwealth Games, and I know these 11 Team Members will be bold, brave and brilliant in Birmingham."
Headlining the Australian weightlifting team for the upcoming Commonwealth Games will be four athletes making their second appearance at the event - Charisma Amoe-Tarrant, Eileen Cikamatana, Ridge Barredo, and Brandon Wakeling, along with seven debutants.
Eileen Cikamatana, the youngest weightlifter on Australia's Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games weightlifting team, the 22-year-old has a chance to make history while in England.
Cikamatana, who represented Fiji and won gold in the 90kg class at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, could become the first woman to win a gold medal at a Commonwealth Games for two different countries in individual events.
After becoming an Australian citizen in 2019, Cikamatana, based in Victoria, claimed gold medals in junior World Cup events in 2019 and 2020.
This year, she will compete in the Women's 87kg class, and was grateful for the opportunity to represent her adopted country and provide a great chance for Australia to finish atop the podium.
"To get that opportunity to represent another country, especially Australia, where you get respected for what you do, it is a dream come true," Cikamatana said.
"No words can describe the feeling of it. You lift to get more medals, break records and make the country proud, and I'm appreciative of the opportunity that they've given me."
Similar to Cikamatana, Charisma Amoe-Tarrant, also 22 years old, moved to Australia in 2012 however, competed at the Commonwealth Games four years ago for Nauru, and won a silver medal in the 90kg+ class.
Brandon Wakeling and Ridge Barrelo are the other two athletes who will be travelling to their second Commonwealth Games, each finishing seventh in the 69kg class, and eighth in the 105kg class on the Gold Coast in 2018.
Wakeling will be aiming for gold in Birmingham, competing in the 73kg event, with the proud Wonnarua man and ambassador for Deadly Choices, a program empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to make healthy choices, the Tokyo Olympian is setting an example in his sport, and community.
Already Wakeling has been involved in the formalities of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, part of a ceremony on the Gold Coast last month where he was present for the arrival of the Queen's Baton, welcoming the baton from New Zealand as it continued its journey across the 72 Commonwealth countries.
"Being part of the Birmingham Queen's Baton Relay last month was great and being there on the morning at the Gold Coast to welcome the Baton to Australia and witnessing the Welcome to Country was a special moment," Wakeling reflected.
"The Queen's Baton celebrations made the upcoming Commonwealth Games feel real and not too far away.
The 28-year-old Queenslander is looking forward to representing Australia at the Commonwealth Games once again, seeing this as a new opportunity to compete at a world event.
"So it is very exciting to be selected to my second Commonwealth Games, I am really looking forward to competing in Birmingham," he said.
"After competing at the Gold Coast Games in front of family and friends, and then at my first Olympics in Tokyo, I can't wait to be wearing the green and gold and competing on the world stage again."
While there are four members of the weightlifting team with previous Commonwealth Games experience, Sarah Cochrane, Kiana Elliot, Ebony Gorincu, Brenna Kean, Kyle Bruce, Suamali Nanai, and Jackson Young will be making their Commonwealth Games debut in Birmingham.
A former sprinter, hurdler and bobsledder, Gorincu, who will compete in the 76kg class, took up weightlifting to build strength when switching sports to bobsleigh in hopes of competing at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
However, changing to a new sport provides Gorincu with a new chance to represent Australia on the world stage, a dream that's been hard-released, but well-deserved. She competed at the World Championships in Tashkent last year where she earned a personal best 118kg in the clean and jerk, and is moving up a weigh division in Birmingham.
Nanai, a member of the Australian Royal Navy, being a combat systems operator who is an instructor at the Surface Maritime Warfare Centre at HMAS Stirling in Perth, introduced weightlifting into his training regime while playing rugby. As a result, Nanai earned the top ranking in Australia in the 109+kg class in 2020, and in 2021, claimed gold at the Oceania Championships.
Australian Weightlifting Federation CEO Ian Moir says a strong team has been assembled, and that each athlete will do their best in Birmingham.
"It has been a short qualification process for the Commonwealth Games on the back of the Tokyo Olympics, but our athletes have committed themselves to being ready for the Birmingham Games," Moir said.
"We have assembled a strong team of 11 athletes, there are a mixture of returning Commonwealth Games representatives and seven who will be making their Games debut.
"I know all of them can't wait to be wearing the green and gold again and will be working hard to add their names to the incredible legacy of Australian weightlifters at the Commonwealth Games.
"On behalf of Australian Weightlifting, we are so very proud of each and every one of these athletes. We can't wait to watch them compete on the platform in Birmingham."
Australia has competed in weightlifting at the Commonwealth Games since it was introduced into the program in 1950 in Auckland for the men's competition, and in 2002 in Manchester for the women's events.
Australia has won 154 medals in the sport at the Commonwealth Games, with 58 gold, 50 silver, and 46 bronze, as the nation sits atop the medal tally for weightlifting as a whole across the past 72 years of competition at this event.
Weightlifting at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will begin on Saturday July 30 and end on Wednesday August 3, at the National Exhibition Centre.