On Saturday 18th November, ten of Ireland’s top para powerlifters travelled to the IWA-Sport Centre to compete in the National Para Powerlifting Championships.
In what was the first competition since the World Championships in Dubai for many of the athletes, Irish para powerlifters looked to end 2023 on a high note by competing in the National Para Powerlifting Championships.
The Championships were held at IWA-Sport Centre in Clontarf Dublin, with the Women’s competition getting proceedings underway. First to take their place on the bench was Niamh Buckley in the Up to 79kg Next Gen & Elite category. Buckley aimed to clear 68kg with her first lift, which she managed with ease.
The Cork woman continued in good form, when she successfully lifted 70kg in round 2. It was almost a perfect competition for her but received 3 red flags to signal a no lift on her final go, where she attempted 72kg.
Niamh’s efforts meant it was another gold medal added to her growing collection.
Bronze medallist at the World Championships back in August on her debut at international level, Angela Long was back in action on home soil. In the Elite & Legends Up to 72kg category, Angela’s first attempt at 68kg was marked as a good lift. The second attempt had the bar set to 70kg but unfortunately got put down as a bad lift. In her final attempt of the competition, Long went for 70kg again but had no luck in getting the good lift she hoped for.
Cavan native, Casey Fitzgerald stunned in the Junior World Championships, sealing gold in her weight category. For the National Championships, she was competing in the Elite and Next Gen Up to 72kg category and aiming to lift 73kg on the first attempt.
The lift was deemed good and for the second attempt, Fitzgerald had the chance to set a new lifetime best with 77kg on the bar. Much to her delight, it was a good lift and a new lifetime best set. Rounding out her appearance at the competition, she looked to even further her newly set lifetime best with the bar wracked up to 80kg. However, it wasn’t on the cards for the young powerlifter.
Casey Fitzgerald’s lifetime best wasn’t the only achievement of the day for her, as she was also awarded gold medal. And while she wasn’t able to attend the medal ceremony in the afternoon, Angela Long was awarded silver at the 2023 National Para Powerlifting Championships.
Finally to round out the women’s competition was Paralympian, Britney Arendse, who has her sights firmly fixed on a return to the Paralympics, taking place in Paris next summer.
Competing in the Elite, up to 79kg category, starting strong, Arendse cleared 110kg on the first attempt, following it up in round 2 by lifting 115kg cleanly. Making a clean sweep of good lifts, Britney completed her National Championships with another good lift, this time at 120kg.
Britney’s stellar performance meant it was another gold medal for her, while also claiming title of Best Female Lifter too.
The afternoon session saw the attention turn to the Men’s competition, with Oscar Handcock returning for his fourth Nationals. Competing in the Up to 72kg Elite category, his absence away from the sport showed, as the Wicklow man struggled to make a good lift.
His first two lifts at 80kg were marked down, before attempting 90kg on the final lift, which was also unsuccessful.
After Handcock was Ruairi Devlin, who was another powerlifter that competed in Dubai at the World Championships earlier this year.
Devlin competed in the Elite and Next Gen Up to 72kg category, with his first lift deemed a good lift at 80kg. For his final two attempts, the Kinsale native tried to clear 85kg but was unsuccessful each time.
A strong start was enough for Ruairi Devlin to claim the gold medal at the end of his second National Championships.
Next was the Up to 80kg and first up was Kevin Crilly, in the Elite category. His first attempt was for 70kg but was deemed no lift, which would be the case again when he returned for his second attempt. For the final lift, Crilly had the bar loaded up to 75kg and made sure he had a result to take home, with it being a good lift.
Cork man, Sean O’Leary had recently returned from Abu Dhabi after claiming a silver medal at the World Para Jiu Jitsu Championships. O’Leary was competing in the Elite and Legends category and started with a good lift of 100kg. For his final two lifts, O’Leary aimed to clear 105kg but was unable to do so on this occasion.
It meant that the gold medal would still go to Sean O’Leary, while Kevin Crilly was awarded silver medal on his National Championships debut.
Closing out the National Championships was Sean Hughes, who was another of the many success stories for Ireland at the World Championships.
Hughes made light work of 120kg on his first attempt, while moving up to 130kg on the second attempt, which was cleared. The third and final attempt was for 140kg, which sealed a perfect competition for him when it was declared a good lift.
The three good lifts meant that gold was sealed, along with being declared Best Male Lifter too.
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