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2022 Pacific Mini Games Athlete Profiles – Weightlifting

Thursday 16 June 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Sports

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2022 Pacific Mini Games Athlete Profiles – Weightlifting
Photo: RNZ

Cook Islands News profiles another athlete who will be representing the country in weightlifting for the Pacific Mini Games, which will get underway on June 17.

Manine Lynch

Age – 23

Islands and village – Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Mangaia; Muri

What future goals/ambitions do you have in the sport? There is a small window of opportunity to pursue sport professionally in everyone's life. I fortunately have the opportunity to pursue weightlifting as a professional sporting career so every competition and event I have attended has been a goal of mine. Personally, I don’t have long term goals with sport – I am taking it day by day and competition by competition, working to make the most out of every opportunity I have been given. The Commonwealth & Olympic Games are the highest sporting event any athlete can aspire to attend and compete in. I’ve never even dreamed about competing at these events because it was such a far-fetched goal but God has definitely opened these opportunities so I guess you could say they are now on my so-called ‘sporting bucket list’. I would love to one day represent the Cook Islands at the Olympic Games but even if I don’t get that opportunity, I am pretty stoked with what I have done so far.

What ambitions do you have outside of sports (career, education, etc)? It is so important for athletes to have things to pursue outside of sport. I manage my family’s accommodation business Cook Islands Holiday Villas so this takes up my 8am to 4pm. I have yet to finish off my Bachelors of Commerce degree but it is something I want to complete in the near future, it’s just on the back burner until I can tick off those sporting goals. I also run a photography business called ‘Made By Manine’. I started this in 2017 and have loved all the friendships I have made from being behind the camera lens. I want to one day pursue photography full time but, in the meantime, I am working on upskilling and broadening my work experience before I make that jump. There are so many opportunities for us here in the Cook Islands and I am so blessed to have many avenues to go down once I finish with sport.

What do you love about your sport? My first international competition made me fall in love with weightlifting. It wasn’t any training session or the feeling I got from lifting it was literally the excitement I had when I saw all the different athletes from different countries at one venue. I felt so inspired to see men and women of all sizes and ages lifting such heavy weights. I knew that if I wanted to pursue weightlifting I had to do it with the intention of competing internationally because it was so much fun. Personally, I love seeking excitement and fun in everything I do and weightlifting is exactly that. Some training sessions may look the same on our programmes but nothing truly the same. Weights get heavier, your body gets stronger and you are your biggest competition – every time. I love the confidence this sport has given me. I may not be the smallest girl but I know I am a very strong athlete. This sport highlights my strengths and helps improve my weaknesses, both physically and mentally Lastly, what I love most about this sport is that ANYONE can do it. I have seen very tall lifters to very small lifters to big super lifters, there is no ideal body type or fit. If you are willing to put in the hard work you will find that weightlifting is for everyone and it is very rewarding.

Cook Islands' Manine Lynch at the NZ Secondary School Champs. 16110439

What events and competitions have you competed in? My first competitions were NZ National Secondary Comps followed by my first international representing the Cook Islands in 2016 at the Oceania Championships in Fiji. Since then I have competed at a number of regional and international competitions. They are the New Zealand Internationals, Australian Internationals, Pacific Cup Internationals (New Caledonia), Commonwealth & Oceania Championships and recently the OWF Online Cup Invitational. In the Cook Islands I have competed in local based competitions that the Cook Islands Weightlifting Federation have organised and also the Cook Islands Games. These competitions may not be recognised overseas but these are the very competitions that have helped my development and will work to inspire Cook Islanders to participate in weightlifting. Personally, these competitions will inspire the next lot of Cook Islands weightlifters so these are my biggest events and competitions to prepare for, because you never know what athlete could come from these events.

What are your achievements in the sport (medals, placings, representing the country, personal bests etc)? Medals – 2 x Gold at the NZ National Secondary Schools Competitions (2015 - 2016) First International Medal – 1 x Bronze Junior 90+ Category at the Oceania Championships in Australia (2017) / and 1 x Gold at the New Zealand International (2022). My performance and total at the New Zealand International (2022) qualified my spot for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. With three months of training I managed to hit a 86kg snatch, 110kg clean & jerk and 196kg total. This performance has given me a 7th place ranking in the Commonwealth. In the recent OWF Online Cup Invitational I lifted competition personal bests. Hitting 6/6 with a finishing 88kg snatch and 112kg clean & jerk and a 200kg total. When I was first starting out in weightlifting, I used to dream of hitting a 200kg total so being able to achieve that in the span of 5-6 months under the guidance of Luisa Peters and at home in the Cook Islands makes it even more special.

I also had the opportunity to attend a training camp in New Caledonia with the Oceania Weightlifting Training Institute. I am very grateful to Paul and Lily Coffa who were the head of this institute that took me in for a few weeks. This is where I got to train and compete with the best of the best in both the Pacific and the world. I wanted to mention this because this was where I trained with my now coach Luisa Peters but it was the start of where I knew I could pursue sport professionally. I learnt so much while being here that I will forever consider it the start of a new beginning in my weightlifting career.

Weightlifting also opened doors outside of sport. Thanks to CISNOC I was able to represent the Cook Islands at the International Olympic Academy 2018 in Greece. The aim of the Academy was to educate and motivate young participants to use their experiences and knowledge gained from the sessions in promoting the Olympic ideals in the Cook Islands. It was an amazing experience to be surrounded by athletes, coaches and officials that saw the importance of sport and the importance of athletes as role models in our communities.

What made you want to represent the sport at international level? My parents were one of the many reasons as to why I represented the Cook Islands in weightlifting. They both have represented the Cook Islands in their own sports so it was just the ‘next step’ to take if I was performing well in weightlifting. I owe my parents a lot for what they have done and for getting me to where I am in this sport. They never doubted my ability and have always supported my decisions.

My coach Luisa Peters and Cook Islands lifter Philippa Woonton were another reason. Our first comp in Fiji together will always be one I look back on fondly because they welcomed me straight away. Seeing two strong beautiful ladies represent the Cook Islands and do it with such strength and power was so inspiring. I first met them as an outside admirer but now I consider them the coaches, mentors and friends. 

Lastly, God definitely was the reason as to why I wanted to represent the Cook Islands in weightlifting at an international level. With every platform I am given I want to make sure that I am a representation of Him and that people would see Jesus through me. He has given me these talents and gifts and it’s my job to steward them well and give Him all the glory. God continues to open up new opportunities and it is exciting to see and be a part of it. I don’t represent internationally just for myself but I do it with the intention of pleasing Him and giving my family, friends and the people of the Cook Islands something to look forward to.