Tokoroa woman lifts her way to the top
Despite training in a cramped single garage a Tokoroa Olympic lifter has managed to become one of the world’s best.
Janita Poko finished fourth during the 2017 International Weightlifting Federation World Masters Championship in Auckland in the 45-49 age group, 90kg and above.
The achievement was no small feat seeing as she has only been doing the sport for four years.
Poko, who is 178cm tall, said she never dreamt she’d be able to do so well due to her build.
‘‘The ideal build is a long torso and short levers but I am the exact opposite,’’ she laughed.
‘‘God made me strong, he made me moderately fast and moderately fit, but even I surprised myself. It makes it even funnier that in all my photos everyone is only ever up to about my shoulder height.’’
She said being up against 12 experienced competitors, many of which had Olympic and Commonwealth Games coaches who train in multimillion dollar facilities, made it even more incredible.
That’s especially so considering where she trains herself.
Twice a week she travels to the Crossfit Papamoa Barbell Club where she is tutored by her son and head coach Aydan Poko and his partner Emma Pilkington but the rest of the time she trains in a tiny garage.
The garage has just enough room to lift her weights between a small gap in the rafters.
‘‘Because I am so tall if I go too far forward or too far back I will knock myself out,’’ she laughed.
‘‘My husband has put a piece of plywood down though so I have an even surface beneath me and I have imprints on it now so I know where I need to stand. I would love to train in a multimillion dollar outfit but I have got to be an adult and run a business so I work with what I have.’’ And work it has. Not only does Poko now hold a world ranking of 4th but she has also managed to break two New Zealand records with her snatch lifts where weights are lifted from the ground to overhead in one continuous motion.
During the world masters her snatch was 61kg and her clean and jerk, which is where the weight is raised above the head following an initial lift to shoulder level, was 75kg.
‘‘The world masters were amazing and it was mind blowing getting to that level,’’ she said.
Janita Poko in the tiny garage at her Tokoroa motel where she does most of her Olympic weightlifting training.
Janita Poko during the 2017 World Masters Games.