Toko­roa woman lifts her way to the top

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - LUKE KIRKEBY

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.

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