The Lowvelder

Going for gold!

- Stefan de Villiers

It is said that dynamite comes in small packages, but none have proved it quite like Indonesian-born Sahari Thatcher (50) did on Tuesday when she made a clean sweep at the first-ever virtual World Masters Weightlift­ing Championsh­ip of 2021. She not only won an internatio­nal gold medal, but unofficial­ly broke three records right here in Mbombela.

Indonesian-born Sahari Thatcher (50), who settled in the Lowveld in March 2013, made a clean sweep at the first-ever virtual World Masters Weightlift­ing Championsh­ip of 2021.

The event was run by the masters committee in cooperatio­n with the USA Weightlift­ing Federation, and saw 900 athletes from 62 countries strut their stuff in their own backyard. Thatcher took part at the Nelsparta Weightlift­ing Club at Central Park, Mbombela.

She, despite weighing in at only 43,3 kilograms on the day, won her age category hands down by making three successful snatches, starting with 39 kilograms and ending with 45 kilograms, and three clean and jerks, starting with 55 and ending with 60. This not only won her the title, but she unofficial­ly smashed three world records in the process.

The previous snatching record from 2006 stood at 28 kilograms for her age division, and the clean and jerk record was 40 kilograms. She battered the former by 17 kilograms and the latter by 20 kilograms. Thatcher's combined weight, 105 kilograms in both these events, is not only 30 kilograms above qualifying weight for the 2022 World Masters Games in Kansai, Japan, but enough to secure another record for her total.

Her journey as a weightlift­er started when she approached her now coach, Ruhan Koekemoer, in 2017 to pursue CrossFit training though he suggested weightlift­ing instead. "I saw the potential and she thought I was out of my mind. She entered her first competitio­n and snatched 15 kilograms, and clean and jerked 25 kilograms. In the SA championsh­ips hosted in Mbombela, Thatcher snatched 40 kilograms and clean and jerked 40 kilograms," he said. "This made her realise that she was a weightlift­er."

Since then, here is what she achieved:

• SAMWF Championsh­ip - 2017: ninth place

• Celebratio­n of lifting - 2018: gold medal and South Africa national colours

• Arnold Africa Classic - 2018: gold medal and world championsh­ip qualifier

• World Championsh­ip - Barcelona: 2018 - internatio­nal silver medal

• SAMWF Championsh­ip - 2018: gold medal and world championsh­ip qualifier

• Celebratio­n of lifting - 2019: gold medal and world championsh­ip qualifier

• SA vs Australia Team Challenge - 2019: invited as guest lifter, gold medal

• Arnold Africa Classic - 2019: gold medal, three SA records and best female master lifter

• World Championsh­ip, Montreal - 2019: internatio­nal gold medal and three world records

• SAMWF Championsh­ip - 2019: gold medal and world championsh­ip qualifier, SAMWF 2019 best female lifter, three new official SA records, three new unofficial world records

• SAMWF Championsh­ip - 2020: gold medal and world championsh­ip qualifier, SAMWF 2020 best female lifter, two new official SA records and three new unofficial world records

• 1610 Lift-Off: gold medal and three SA records.

 ?? > Photo: Stefan de Villiers ??
> Photo: Stefan de Villiers
 ?? > Photos: Stefan de Villiers ?? Sahari Thatcher.
> Photos: Stefan de Villiers Sahari Thatcher.
 ??  ?? Sahari Thatcher with her coach Ruhan Koekemoer at Nelsparta Weightlift­ing Club.
Sahari Thatcher with her coach Ruhan Koekemoer at Nelsparta Weightlift­ing Club.

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