• Tia Toomey made her Olympic weightlifting debut in Rio. (Image: Instagram)
Only weeks after competing in the Crossfit Games, Tia Toomey made her Olympic debut in Rio.
Jill Scanlon

11 Aug 2016 - 8:00 AM  UPDATED 11 Aug 2016 - 11:26 AM

Tia Toomey went to her first Olympics with one thing in mind – to do her best and learn from the experience.

The 23 year old weightlifter had her moment in the Olympic spotlight, when late on Monday night in Rio she fulfilled her goal of competing in the Games.

Weightlifting is a sport which Toomey has only officially taken up in the last 18 months, as an extension of her passion for Crossfit training.

In realising her lifting strength was in fact a weakness in her Crossfit repertoire, she sought specialist training and the world of weightlifting opened up to her and the 2016 Olympics came calling.

In the lead up to Rio, she participated in the World Crossfit Championships in the USA, finishing with the silver medal – the second fittest woman in the world for the second consecutive year.

With the support of family, friends and the local community back home in Queensland, she moved on from her Crossfit success to her first Olympic Games with the gruelling five day competition serving as a tough pre-Rio training substitute.

The moment she had been weight-ing for

When the time came to walk out for her competition the nerves were building and as she later reflected, nerves in individual international competition are very different to those when felt when representing your country.

The 58kg Toomey lifted a creditable 82 kg in the Snatch but it was the Clean and Jerk in which she was determined to do well.

With a personal best of 111kg Toomey lined up to attempt a 112kg lift.  While she did not succeed with a lift at that weight, she later said she was determined to achieve it next time, suggesting she now has the Olympic bug.

Finishing fifth in her group of seven with a total lift of 189kg – well below her more experienced opponents - she was well out of podium contention and felt a little disappointed with her performance.

Conscious of family members and her fiancé watching on in the crowd she told reporters that she felt quite nervous and realises she has some technical aspects to work on with her lifting.

“I don’t know what it was - maybe just some nerves. I think that my right side is definitely stronger than my left, it’s definitely something that I’ve tried to work on, but I think there are a few factors there,” she said.

In the aftermath of her performance, her training practices involving the combining of two fitness and sports routines has not been appreciated by everyone with some critical appraisal of her efforts in the local Australian media.

One veteran Sydney sports journalist, best known for his League coverage, intimated she had perhaps underestimated what was needed for Olympic competition – although perhaps ignoring the fact that Toomey did in fact qualify for the Australian Olympic Weightlifting team through all the usual pathways.

The article has come under criticism, with both the weightlifting and Crossfit community rallying in support behind the young Australian.

The bizarre article only worked in Toomey's favour, highlighting her incredible achievement of reaching the pinnacle of two elite sports, within weeks of each other. 

It was an unnecessary dig, with Toomey showing her class by not responding - despite being well within her rights to send an angry tweet or two.

All in all an amazing experience

Toomey told Zela before she left for the USA and Brazil last month, that she was very excited to be going to the Olympics – not just for the competition and the chance to perform at her best on the world stage – but mainly the privilege of representing her country and experiencing all aspects of the one sporting event considered to be the biggest and best in the world.

While Toomey did not quite achieve the goals she had set herself of lifting a personal best, she has looked at the experience with a broader view and appreciation that has capped off a busy and exciting year and only whet her appetite for more of the same.

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