'I was shocked': Weightlifter's masterful performance
STEVEN Graham is still pinching himself.
At last month's City of Ipswich Sports Awards, the Ipswich Weightlifting Club member was named Masters Sportsperson of the Year.
Up against a crowded field of some of the best athletes Ipswich has produced, the weightlifting resume Graham built over the previous 12 months put him ahead of the pack.
Smashing three 20-year-old Queensland records and becoming an Oceania champion will do that.
But the 44-year-old still thought the stock of other athletes may have been higher.
"It was certainly a surprise. There were some decent athletes up there - obviously (marathon runner) Clay Dawson in particular is a bit of a legend around Ipswich," Graham said.
"I went in thinking, 'Oh yeah, Clay will get up but I'll get a good evening out of it.
"Once I got up there, I was just shocked. I think I literally went to my knees."
The former track and field athlete has plenty of career highlights; running in a Stawell Gift, for instance.
But Graham rates the acknowledgement of his peers in winning his most recent award as one of his best.
"It's just fantastic," he said.
"To be recognised amongst those sorts of people, not just the weightlifting fraternity but sports in general . . . in such a sporting rich city like Ipswich, it's right up there."
With just over 24 months of weightlifting experience under his belt, Graham is still one of the more experienced athletes training out of the IWC's home at Blacksoil.
As a converted athlete himself, Graham takes great pleasure in seeing the influx of new members from all walks of sporting life challenge themselves under a barbell.
"We're getting new athletes all the time, from footballers to gymnasts to dancers . . . everyone wants to come and give this weightlifting caper a crack," Graham said.
"It's a sport where you can jump in and with the right coaching and development, if you're patient enough you can make your way up there.
"All shapes, sizes and ability can have a crack and do well at it. Plus it gives you some confidence not just in sports but life in general."
Graham recently returned from winning the Queensland Cup event in Toowoomba last month.
Competing in the newly-minted 73kg weight category, Graham set new state and national records with a 107kg clean and jerk and 182kg total.
"I've had to go down a weight category after the Australian Weightlifting Federation changed the categories around," Graham said.
The 77kg category in which Graham held his previous state and national records is now defunct. But that just means he will forever be the record holder.
"I'll have them forever now because that weight category is no longer," Graham said with a smile.
Next on his agenda is the state championships in Milton at the end of January, followed by nationals in Darwin in March.
"All going well, then there's the Oceania and Commonwealth championships in June," Graham said.
With a packed calender to begin the 2019 year, Graham appreciates the support of his partner Erin.
As a marathon runner, Erin and Graham's sporting lives are "like chalk and cheese" he said.
But there is still a beneficial overlap which helps both of them improve in their chosen fields.
"She's terrible with nutrition. It seems like she can just eat what she wants and then go for a two or three hour run," Graham laughed.
"But I think with my background in running, it helps me understand her training methodology."