The Gympie athletes worth their weight in gold
TWO Gympie weightlifters are on the path to being at the top of their game when they compete at the 2017 Australian and Oceania Masters Weightlifting Championships, Pacific Rim Masters Tournament and Masters World Cup from October 27-30.
Tilia Tonkin, 41, and Sandie Branson, 50, will pick up the weights for Queensland as well as Australia and will face off against stiff opposition.
The tongue-tying competition is a culmination of Olympic weightlifting for the region, attracting competitors from as far afield as Europe, Russia and Japan.
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The Australian Weightlifting Federation, a member of the International Weightlifting Federation and Oceania Weightlifting Federation, will host the event, which is expected to attract more than 400 competitors from Pacific Rim nations.
Tonkin will compete in the 40 to 44-year-old less than 90kg category, while Branson will enter the 50to 54-year-old less than 75kg event.
Cameron Arthur, from Stay True Gym and Gympie Crossfit, has been training Tonkin and Branson on their journey to competitive lifting.
He said the women continue to impress him.
"They've been working up to this week all year," he said.
"They'll face stiff competition but we are just happy to be there.
"It's a huge credit to the hard work they've put in, I am so proud of them.
"It's exciting that they'recompeting for Queensland as well as Australia."
Arthur, 34, is also head coach of the Queensland team, a position from which he'll be able to mentor his charges along their journey.
"Sandie and Tilia areactively trying to slimdown for the competition," he said.
"The aim is to get into alighter category to give you more chance of winning."
Athur said Tonkin and Branson have shown they have the determination to improve.
"Tilia has been with me for four-and-a-half years and she's a very determined girl," he said.
"She lost a lot of weightand that's incredible on its own but I am so proud to see her representing."
Both women are proof it is never too late to pick up a new sport or hobby.
"Sandy has been with the gym for about 14 months," Arthur said.
"She went full-on with it straight away, she puts in 100% physically and mentally."