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Lifting of a different kind spells instant success for Hunter McNeillie
2023-12-30
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Weightlifting is weightlifting - except when it's not.

Confederation Secondary School junior Hunter McNeillie had already grown accustomed to the barbells and bench press scene at T2 Training Systems when he decided to shift his workouts some 100 metres or so to the east.

"My dad saw how much I liked lifting in the gym and he saw something that Troy (T2 owner Troy Thompson) had posted about the club (Sudbury Weightlifting Club)," said McNeillie. "When I tried it (Olympic lifting), I just loved it."

"It connected."

That much was obvious from the results that McNeillie posted in his first ever competition. Taking part in the Ontario Teenage Championships earlier this month, McNeillie went 6/6 on his lifts, registering noteworthy personal best weights in the process.

A snatch of 99 pounds represented an increase of 11 pounds from his former PB, while the clean and jerk bumped from 105 lb to 121 pounds.

Those totals exceeded anything that McNeillie had done in training, though coach Alex Fera could see the potential.

"He said he knew that I could do it and I just listened to him and tried to do my lifts the best as I could, as fast as I could," said McNeillie.

That speed factor is paramount to the biggest single difference that the 15 year-old has noted from his old workouts with his father to the Olympic style of weight hoisting.

"On that side (of the gym), it' s slow and controlled," explained McNeillie. "This (Olympic lifting) is all speed. You use lower weights to slowly build up more and more speed. Over time, you move up with the weights and train at that."

"Eventually, it will just be natural to go fast."

If that sounds like something of a long, drawn-out process, consider that Hunter McNeillie only began working with the Sudbury Weightlifting Club this fall. That freshness was apparent at his very first competition.

"On the way there, it was so-so - but when I got there and was in the back room, I got really nervous," he said. "When I got called out, I was just frozen. It was really nervous the whole way up, but as soon as I got my first snatch, I was like: we're good now."

Though the date of the next meet has not yet been determined, McNeillie has been given the game plan to achieving even more success.

"I sometimes forget to finish and get a big kick in," he said. "If I get that kick, it's going up. And my pull; I need a big pull, even when I am going under the bar. I sometimes will stop."

Joining McNeillie at the event was Sudbury teammate Ambroise Stevens Paquette who claimed gold with new record lifts of 185 lbs (snatch) and 227 lbs (clean & jerk), earning the title as Ontario junior champion in her weight class.

Palladino Subaru