Jax Solofa and Braydan Fender.
Jax Solofa and Braydan Fender. Rob Williams

A big thank you to Ipswich athletes and sport organisations

CONGRATULATIONS to members of the Ipswich sporting community who have been nominated for the 2018 City of Ipswich Sport Awards.

A quick glance down the list of names and organisations provides a veritable who's-who of state, national and international-level competitors of whom Ipswich can be proud to boast as its own.

Queensland Times sport editor David Lems and myself have had the great pleasure of sharing through print the successes of many of the nominated athletes, clubs and organisations this year.

As lovers of local sport -particularly in Lemsy's case, having served the Ipswich community for longer than I have been alive - we appreciate the willingness of said athletes and sporting bodies to share their stories and help us bring them to life.

I don't doubt there are a few key people at various clubs across Ipswich who are probably sick of answering my phone calls over the course of the year; be it rugby league and football to now cricket and baseball season. To those people I offer another big thanks! You make my job not only easier, but also more enjoyable.

As someone who has lived and breathed sport since I was old enough to pull on a pair of boots, I am acutely aware of how important it can be as a vehicle for both physical and emotional growth.

Not to say there are not others, but there is one Ipswich club which to me has epitomised exactly that this year.

In recent months I have spent some time at Ipswich Weightlifting Club at Blacksoil, profiling a number of athletes whom under the guidance of coach Jax Solofa have gone on to podium at various national weightlifting meets.

The club now boasts five national champions by my count - a number which seemingly continues to rise which each passing competition. For such a small and relatively new club, that number is quite staggering. But in my eyes it is no coincidence.

Jax - now a national champion in his own right - has built a remarkable environment which brings out the best in his athletes.

Within the club's four walls, members greet their coach with a personalised, 'secret' handshake.

On Facebook, the club celebrates each athlete's achievements - be they title successes, personal bests, or even a major technique milestone.

For a sport predicated on lifting heavy weights and severely taxing the body, there is a surprising amount of laughter and smiling going on out at Blacksoil.

Jax has been nominated for Coach of the Year. Club members Braydan Fender and Steven Graham are in the running for Senior Sportsperson of the Year and Masters Sportsperson of the Year respectively.

Jax has broken the mould for what it means to be a weightlifter, and who can stand over a barbell. Age and experience are no limiting factors, and the club's members are preaching that philosophy.

There is something in the water at Ipswich Weightlifting Club, and it seems to be infectious. I would suggest getting out to Blacksoil and bottling some of it.

Or better yet, take your own peek behind the curtain and make a visit to IWC. If 10-year-old Amelie can get involved, so can you!

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