Commonwealth Games bronze medalist, Francois Etoundi, won gold at the Australian Weightlifting Championships in Melbourne, and says he’s determined to win back the support of Australian fans.
30-year-old Etoundi was sent home from last year’s Commonwealth Games after being involved in an out-of-competition incident with a Welsh weightlifter.
“When I came back from the Commonwealth Games last year I was a little depressed after what had happened,” Etoundi said.
“But with all the support from my girlfriend and my family, I came back to training. I have to prove to people they were wrong about me.
“I’m just a simple person. I’m a good athlete, but I think for next year, for the trust of the people, I will be up there challenging for Rio.”
Etoundi won gold in the 77kg class at the Australian Championships, but it wasn’t without incident.
He missed his first two lifts in the snatch after misjudging his timing, but managed to successfully lift on his third and final attempt.
In other results, legally blind lifter Malek Chamoun showed he has put the disappointment of Glasgow behind him by winning the men’s 85kg gold medal.
Chamoun failed to record a lift at last year’s Commonwealth Games after missing his three snatch attempts, but he started at a much more conservative weight in Melbourne.
“It’s like it never happened,” Chamoun said.
“I came back from Glasgow, did a few comps and went well. I’m back on track.
“I had one bad experience, everyone has them. But I’ve put all of that behind me.”
17-year-old Kiana Elliott underlined once again her prodigious talent by smashing her previous personal bests to win junior and senior gold in the women’s 69kg division.
“It’s been a bit of a roller coaster to be honest,” Elliott said about her preparation.
“I was feeling a bit sick after the Pacific Games in PNG, and had a couple of niggling injuries.
“It’s always a learning experience, I’ve only been lifting for just over two years so I’m still new to things, still learning the ropes.”
And Philippa Malone, in just her fifth competition, followed up her triumph in last month’s Pacific Games by winning gold in the 63kg division.
The Australian titles are also doubling as selection events for the upcoming Commonwealth Championships in India and the World Championships in Houston.