The New Zealand Olympic Committee today confirmed the two weightlifters selected for the 2016 New Zealand Olympic Team for Rio, bringing the total team size to 111 athletes selected.Following on from his gold medal winning performance at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Richie Patterson has secured his spot to lift in the men’s 85kg division for Rio.
Joining him in the team will be Tracey Lambrechs who, having claimed a bronze medal at Glasgow 2014, has continued to raise the bar over the past two years and in doing so secured her spot to compete in the women’s +75kg division.
It has been 16 years since New Zealand last selected a male and female weightlifter for a games, with the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games the only other time this has occurred. In Sydney, Nigel Avery and Olivia Baker competed for New Zealand. This was also the first time women’s weightlifting was introduced to the Olympic programme.
With Patterson confirmed for his third Olympic Games, he joins the great Don Oliver in being the only New Zealand weightlifter to be selected for three Olympic Games.
“I’m feeling very excited to once again be back on the Olympic Platform, it is the pinnacle honour in the sport of Olympic Weightlifting to compete at the Olympic Games.
“Not only do I get to show my ability and compete against the best in the world, it is also a chance to represent the wider New Zealand sporting community in the New Zealand Olympic Team,” said Patterson.
“I look forward to exceeding my own expectations and to provide inspiration for generations to come.”
Selection into the team for Rio signals a first Olympic call up and a dream come true for Lambrechs, having narrowly missed selection for the London 2012 Games four years ago.
“I’m feeling a mixture of relief, happiness and pride,” she said.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to do what I love on one of the worlds biggest sporting stages.“
New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith was on hand to congratulate the athletes as their selections were confirmed in Auckland this morning, commending both athletes on their significant acheivement.
“Tracey and Richie have worked extremely hard to achieve selection and, with their strong depth of experience in the sport, it’s encouraging to see these athletes rewarded for their hard work,” she said.
“I know they are well respected by, and an inspiration to, young New Zealand weightlifters right across the country and we to look forward to being inspired by their efforts in Rio this August.”
President of Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand Mike Reid also acknowledged the efforts of both athletes in recent years and said two Olympic selections signaled a great step forward for the sport in New Zealand.
“It has been excellent to see a positive mindset shift towards our sport in recent times, with our development and age group teams swelling in size and lifting performance standards.
“Richie and Tracey have both worked hard to gain selection for Rio and the entire teams’ effort in Fiji at the recent Oceania qualifying event was pleasing,” he said.
“We wish both athletes well for the Games and look forward to what looks to be a bright future for weightlifting in New Zealand.”
The weightlifting will take place at the Rio Centro complex over 10 days at the games, with lifting scheduled from 7-14 August (with no competition on 15 August).
The men will compete in eight events based on athlete weight categories, from under 56kg to the super-heavyweights at over 105kg. Women compete for seven gold medals, from under 48kg to over 75kg.
Each weight category is an event and all competitions are finals.
Richie Patterson will compete on August 12 (August 13 NZT) and Tracey Lambrechs on August 14 (August 15 NZT).