Lift-off for new event


A new Queenstowner is bringing the inaugural national masters weightlifting championships to the resort.

Laurel Hubbard, a former national junior record-holder in the sport, is organising the champs at the Queenstown Events Centre on October 25.

Hubbard, 37 - whose father Dick, a former Auckland mayor, and mum Diana also live in Queenstown - says the event will have weight and age-group categories for lifters from 35 to 80-plus.

He’s expecting about 40 competitors, half of them women, from around the country including two lifters who’ve held age-group world records.

Hubbard says he was inspired to organise the event to lift the sport’s profile and boost the number of participants ahead of the World Masters Games, to be held in Auckland in 2017.

“Also, I’ve had so many people that have helped me along the way in weightlifting that I really want to pay some of that back - in the sense of organising events and making things happen.

“Some of the best experiences I’ve ever had have been either in the weightlifting gym or on the competitive platform, and it would be so great if I can help other people to experience that too.”

What’s also brought about the masters champs - which he hopes will be a springboard to Queenstown hosting South Island and even national champs - is a new Southern Districts Weightlifting Club which he’s launched.

The club, which has already bought bars, weights and a competition platform, will help weightlifters and other athletes and coaches needing strength and conditioning help throughout Otago and Southland.

The equipment is currently housed at the Events Centre, where it will be used for fitness sessions and training camps.

Meanwhile, Hubbard’s also taking weekly weight training sessions for Wakatipu High School’s Wakatipu Sports Academy.