Just one month after what she described as a disappointing performance at the Oceania Championships, teenage weightlifter Kiana Elliott has become Australia’s first medallist at a Junior World Championships for more than two decades.
The Sydney 18-year-old won a bronze medal in the 63kg class at the Junior World Championships in Tblisi, the first Australian on a Junior World Championship podium since Caroline Pileggi in the 1995.
“It feels incredible,” Elliott said.
“Honestly, to stand up there on the podium and to watch the Australian flag rise up, that was an amazing feeling.
“I couldn't believe it at first and I think it's still sinking in that I am up there with the best juniors in the world.”
It’s an incredible turnaround for Elliott, who one month earlier had missed her chance of Olympic qualification at the Oceania Championships in Fiji.
“The lead up was a bit of a mixed bag, coming off the back of a disappointment in Fiji, particularly as had the result in Fiji been good then we were going to skip out on Junior Worlds,” she said.
“I had to take some time to digest the result and refocus for the next task. It was tough, and my coach played a big role in helping me mentally overcome that.
“As it got closer to our departure date I began to start hitting some solid weights in training and I actually managed to PB both lifts in training in the week before we flew out.”
During the Tblisi competition Elliott was a picture of concentration. She was so focused on trying to hit her own PB’s that she didn’t notice she was in medal contention.
“I was entirely in my own world and I had very little idea how the other girls were lifting,” she said.
“So no, I didn't know I was travelling well at all! I was aware I was up there with a good chance from looking at the board before the competition started but during the competition, the coaching staff kept the gravity of the lifts from me.
“I didn't know what my lifts meant in terms of placings until after I did them. After I missed the 94, and we took 95 I had an inkling that the change was significant and so when I caught the lift I was thinking 'I hope this means something good!' And then as I was walking off Craig had two fingers up in the air for the silver!”
The second placing in the snatch, lifting 95kg to smash her previous 63kg PB of 93kg, set her up nicely for a tilt at an overall medal.
When she clean and jerked 109kg, it gave her a 204kg total and locked up the bronze medal.
“It wasn't until I was back in the warm up room actually looking at the scoreboard for myself, by this time the Argentinian was taking her third clean and jerk, that I realised I was guaranteed third,” Elliott said.
“And I had to ask Jacquie (White, team manager) to confirm it before I believed it! Even she had been trying to tell me that already!
“So it was a rather amusing realisation for me, but when it hit, wow did it hit! I was completely overjoyed, and there were tears.”
Elliott has long been touted as the next big thing in Australian weightlifting, ever since coming across to the sport from gymnastics and diving just three years ago.
d even though she has had doubts before, Elliott herself knows she can now mix it with the world’s best.
And she’s looking forward to getting the opportunity to show Australia what she can do at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
“This result has helped solidify for me that I am capable of fighting and holding my own at the top of weightlifting competition when it comes down to fighting for medals,” she said.
“In terms of the upcoming Commonwealth Games, this adds to the experience bank of truly learning how to battle in weightlifting. Which is what the hardware always comes down to in this sport.”
Since returning to Australia, Kiana had the privilege to address her former school Abbotsleigh, the schools current cohort, and alumni for the past 50 years about her sporting successes over the past couple of years. The Deputy Head Mistress informed Kiana that at a following event with the current school cohort a vast proportion said they wanted to be a weightlifting when they grew up. The parents had no idea where these dreams had been hatched!