Bungle crushes lifters

Herald Sun


Bungle crushes lifters

Leo Schlink

AUSTRALIA’s Olympic men’s weightlifting squad for Athens has been cut in
half in farcical circumstances.

Australia will now have only one male and one female lifter at the Games
after the national team finished second to Nauru at the Oceania
Championships in Fiji last week.

Australian Weightlifting Federation president Sam Coffa last night accepted
part of the blame for an “outrageous” blunder.

The Australian Olympic Committee described the fallout from the comical
selection handling of the weightlifting squad as “unfortunate”.

Australia would have qualified two male lifters for Greece had it won the
Oceania Championships.

But it arrogantly rested a competitor ranked No. 1 in the world because it
assumed the squad would still qualify first.

“What happened was the one or two lifters needed to get us over the line
were left behind,” Coffa admitted. “This was following advice from our
coaching panel that we had enough buffer to take us over the line and it
didn’t prove to be the case. It’s not an embarrassment, but I am completely
outraged. We are all guilty and that includes me.”

Sergo Chakhoyan, who is training in Armenia and is rated world No. 1 in the
85kg class, is the Australian weightlifter told he was not required for the

Chakhoyan’s bronze medal in clean and jerk at last year’s world titles meant
he’d virtually pre-qualified for Athens. He is expected to be nominated for
the sole spot, subject to AOC approval.

But the bungle has shattered Chris Rae, who won the 105kg-plus class in
Suva. Rae was in line to fill the second spot, pending results at the Games
selection trials in June.

“It’s devastating for me,” Rae said. “It has cost me the chance of making
the Olympics.”