Siblings lift each other to become national champions
DARREN Utz admits he finds it hard to watch his children when they step up to the weightlifting platform.
Viewing the recent U15/Youth Nationals in Perth via webcast, Utz regularly "had to walk away” such was the nervousness he felt for now-national champions Charlie and Adelaide.
He would listen for the three green lights to sound -signalling the lift was successful- before quickly rushing back to the screen to watch a replay of the attempt.
But the proud father's anxious viewing habits did not stem from a concern for the safety of his children, as the uninitiated might suspect, with kids lifting heavy weights above their head.
Rather he was so emotionally invested in Charlie and Adelaide's success, having witnessed first-hand their dedication to training, the thought of them not achieving their goals was almost too much.
"Very proud, but also very relieved that all their efforts paid off,” Utz said, referencing the gold medal-winning feats of his two children in Perth.
"They train so very hard. So from the moment they walked out there, it was just nerve wracking. It was a big relief for them to be crowned national champions. It was well worth it.”
Mum Wendy has roots in Crossfit, which is where she met Ipswich Weightlifting Club coach Jax Solofa.
Solofa took both Charlie and Adelaide under his wing, and carefully groomed the pair into national champions.
Utz reiterated he felt no unease about his children competing in weightlifting.
"I love that my kids love weightlifting,” Utz said.
"Weightlifting is not a dangerous sport. It's great for building dedication and drive.
"It's different to the gym, it's very targeted and technique driven. And it's great for mental capacity as well.
"Jax is extremely big on technique and safety. Part of his programming is to build them up from a technique and strength point of view, so that when they get to those (heavier) weights they have the confidence.”
Utz labelled Solofa "very genuine” and praised the coach's willingness to connect with his young pupils on more than a superficial level. It as a big reason for the core group of young lifters' success.
"He has a really good rapport . . . he connects with all the kids,” Utz said.
"He understands they're kids. That it's not the be-all-end-all; school gets busy, as does family life. But when they're (in the gym) he gets the best out of them.”
Solofa was in Perth not just as an Ipswich Weightlifting Club coach, but as Queensland coach also.
He offered an insight into the training habits of his two star pupils; how they differ, how they support each other, and the kind of commitment it takes to be a national champion.
"Charlie likes to get in and get the work done, whereas Adelaide is a bit more relaxed,” Solofa said.
"(Charlie) has his moments where he's relaxed, but overall when he's set a challenge he accepts it and gets down to it.
"(Adelaide) will do one set, then sit down for 5-10 minutes before she picks the bar up again.
"But when she does get to her set, she doesn't muck around. She puts everything in.”
Solofa said it was "a privilege and highlight” to guide Charlie and Adelaide on their weightlifting journeys.
"It's not often you have siblings who are so committed to the same goal, and so supportive of each other,” he said.
"Charlie is always encouraging Adelaide. They're part of my core group of young lifters who set a good example for the other young people coming through.”