By Mark Etheridge
South Africa’s strong men and women acquitted themselves with aplomb at the weekend’s Arnold Classic Africa that came to an end in Sandton on Sunday.
Ricardo Fitzpatrick and Mona Pretorius both shone in their respective powerlifting and weightlifting competitions.
Fitzpatrick earned his seventh international medal, despite failing to better his own African Raw Bench Press record in the -83kg category at the second edition of the event.
This year’s event saw a much bigger turn-out of lifters from Japan, Russia, Iran and Namibia, to name a few.
Among them was current world record holder in the -74kg division and champion Daiki Komada of Japan.
In the picture are gold medallist Komada, runner-up Yonela Mbemba and Fitzpatrick.
Kimberley’s Fitzpatrick won bronze at the weekend. He lifted 170kg this year. ‘But I had to drop my weight from 88kg to under-83, so my form also dropped. I lifted 175kg last year, which was when I broke the SA record.’
‘My goal was to come and break the SA record and fight for silver, but due to some problems with my diet I wasn’t in great form this time. My focus will be on Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Powerlifting qualifier in Mexico City later this year.
‘My goal in Mexico is to improve my ranking and generate a slot for SA in Tokyo.’
Fitzpatrick is currently sixth on the World Para Powerlifting rankings.
As for Pretorius, she won gold at her second Arnold Africa Classic. ‘I did a total of 205kg with a bodyweight of 63.8kg,’ she said.
That’s the former Port Elizabeth lifter’s best lifting in that particular weight group, although she’s managed 209kg in the 69kg category.
‘This is all part of my prepping for Worlds that will be held in Los Angeles later this year, and then next year’s 2018 Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast, Australia.
‘It was a very successful weekend with my team, Dragon Weightlifting, that won the best team awards for the whole weightlifting competition. I also won best female weightlifter of the competition.
‘My team consisted of Thomas Farquhar, Curt Pretorius James Farquhar, Nicole Harrison, Portia Vries, Jayden Pretorius, Justine Greeff, and Manuella Myburgh. My dad Pieter was the team coach and did an amazing job coaching us all on game day.’
A total of 86 weightlifters took part in the Arnold Africa Classic.
Now based in Texas, Pretorius is never one to let the grass grow beneath her feet. ‘I’ve also now become an OPEX coach, under a special Beta gym in Austin. That’s one of my new things.’