IS IT something in the water? Perhaps it is just all that good clean country air.
Guus Kok believes it is good country living which has led to the emergence from the tiny hamlet of Port Welshpool of two champion weightlifters.
Guus’s son, Adam, is one of those champions. The other is Adam’s mate, James Parry. The 20-year-olds were born one day apart in 1990 and grew up together in the Welshpool district.
“They have had a good healthy country lifestyle with lots of manual work – on the farm in James’s case. They’re used to manual work. Totally different to kids who grow up in Melbourne and play on computers all day. I think that’s why this area produces top weightlifters,” said Guus.
Adam has been weightlifting since he was 14 years old, initially with John Ryan at Mary McKillop Catholic Regional College in Leongatha, where he attended school.
He has enjoyed enormous success over the years, most recently at the Australian Junior National Weightlifting Championships (July 10-11) in Ipswich, Queensland, where he won gold in his weight division of 105kg plus. He also won Best Male Lifter. This trophy is awarded with the judges taking into account the body weight of a lifter and how much he lifts.
James also won gold at Ipswich. He won in his weight division of 94kg.
This is a particularly good effort, because James has only been lifting for a year or two – encouraged by Adam. In that time he has collected a swag of medals, including a gold in his class in the Victorian Weightlifting Championships.
James trains in Melbourne with Jourik Sarkisian, a legend in weightlifting in Australia and Adam’s former coach. He fits his training in between studies at the University of Melbourne, where he is completing a science degree.
Adam’s many years of training have paid off and he is now considered an international standard weightlifter. Just after the Victorian Weightlifting Championships, where he won gold in his weight class and Best Junior Male Lifter, he competed in Bulgaria in the World Junior Weightlifting Championships. He was the only male representing Australia and ranked 18 in the world.
He had qualified for Bulgaria by his gold medal winning performance in Fiji in May, when he attended the Oceania South Pacific Weightlifting Championships and gained Junior elite status.
Adam trains with Phoenix Weightlifting in Huntingdale, but when he and James are back home they encourage each other in their weightlifting in a Port Welshpool shed which has become a makeshift gym for the two champions. Adam also makes time to work with Guus for Sims Metal.
So what is next for ‘Welshpool’s Wonders’?
Adam will be off to New Zealand shortly for a training camp and competition, while James is aiming to qualify for international standard.
“I guess that means we can look forward to lots more training!” laughed Adam.