Powerlifter gets her chance to compete in Berlin
Medal-winning powerlifter Lynett Williams will now get her chance to compete in the 2023 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Berlin this year.
Lynett, from Invercargill, who won two silver medals and two bronze at the Special Olympics Summer Games in Hamilton in December, originally missed selection in October for the Berlin games. But she was a late addition to the 40-strong squad after a second selection process.
“It came as such a shock to her because she thought she wasn’t going,” says IDEA Services Support worker Melanie Vermeulen. Lynett, 30, has been supported by IDEA Services since 2011 and she started powerlifting eight years ago.
Her weekly training sessions with Special Olympics Southland will now ramp up with the New Zealand squad’s powerlifting team coach Sonia Manaena. Sonia, herself a former champion powerlifter, will travel to Berlin as coach for the three powerlifters, including Ryan Stewart (Otago) and Caroline Tangitau (Tauranga).
“I have coached Lynett for eight-and-a-half years. I know what she is capable of.” Sonia says Lynett was chosen for the powerlifting team in November. She and Special Olympics Southland Chair Donna Milne decided to keep back the news for a couple of days so they could announce it at the Southland athletes’ Christmas dinner on 25 November.
“Her reaction was quite extraordinary. She is a very shy young lady. “She just stood there, quite shocked,” Sonia says. “She had tears coming down her face. It was just great. She was very proud of having that opportunity.”
“I couldn’t say much,” Lynett says.
But Lynett had to put all thoughts of the Berlin games aside to focus on the National Summer Games in Hamilton in December. Lynett competed in a ‘three lift’ – squat, bench press and deadlift. Her strongest event is the deadlift, and she recorded a personal best when she lifted 102.5kg, but Sonia says she has lifted more than that in training.
The Berlin games will be held from 17-25 June and more than 7000 athletes from 190 countries will compete in 26 sports. It is the world’s largest inclusive sporting event. The New Zealand squad will compete in nine sports. The New Zealanders will first travel to the south of Germany, where they will be hosted by the city of Garching on the outskirts of Munich from 12 June. They will move into the Berlin athletes’ village ahead of the opening ceremony on 17 June.
It will cost $17,000 for Lynett to travel to Berlin. Much of that will be met by Special Olympics New Zealand, but Lynett has to find $3000. Melanie says there will be local fundraising to help her make the journey.
She is now looking forward to a visit to Queenstown to stay with friends before she gets down to the hard work and extra coaching sessions each week starting with cardio and general fitness and flexibility, then more powerlifting sessions.
“I hope to come home with a medal around my neck,” Lynett says.
Caption 1: Lynett Williams competes in the Southern Strength powerlifting competition in Invercargill in July.
Caption 2: Lynett Williams (front row right) and Invercargill’s Special Olympians show off the medals they won at the National Summer Games in Hamilton. Pictured (back, from left) are Dylan Stuart and Cameron Blackley and (front, from left) Sherryl Saunders, Jacqui Glew and Sarah Chambers. Photograph: Southland Express.