Annabelle Harwood snatches silver medal at national weightlifting championships

BENDIGO weightlifter Annabelle Harwood has won silver at the AWF Australian Junior and Senior Championships.

FROM STRENGTH-TO-STRENGTH: Annabelle Harwood plans to take a break from competitive weightlifting as she completes her VCE at Bendigo Senior Secondary College.Picture: DARREN HOWE

FROM STRENGTH-TO-STRENGTH: Annabelle Harwood plans to take a break from competitive weightlifting as she completes her VCE at Bendigo Senior Secondary College.Picture: DARREN HOWE

Harwood lifted a total of 155kg (68kg in snatch and 87kg in clean and jerk) in the junior women's 63kg division, to finish second in the Hobart event behind Sydney powerhouse Kianna Elliot.

Despite being a shade under her personal bests, the 17-year-old has qualified for the Oceania and Commonwealth championships in September.

But Harwood is a likely non-starter as she balances the demands of a national sport and year 12 commitments at Bendigo Senior Secondary College.

"I said at the start of the year my one goal for lifting would be nationals and I got to it and did it," she said.

"Technically I have qualified for a bigger competition, but I won't be able to do it because of school.

"I keep looking at the event and my coach (Troy Hewkins) wants to do it, but it's okay, I still have two years left in juniors after this year."

Harwood, who turns 18 next week, has built an impressive record in her two years in the sport.

She won her first competiton - the Victorian School Weightlifting Championships - at her first event.

Last year, she won dual gold in the Victorian Junior and Youth Weightlifting Championships in the under-17 and under-20 divisions, a performance that helped her to qualify to represent Australia at the World Youth Championships in Malaysia last October.

She currently has personal bests of 71kg in snatch and 88kg in clean and jerk.

Harwood does not have to look far for inspiration. 

She rates Elliot, who won the 63kg senior and junior divisions in Hobart and is now focused on qualifying for next year's Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, as one of her idols.

"I felt so privileged to be standing on a podium next to her, especially because I didn't expect to," she said.

"I messaged her afterwards and said 'thanks so much' ... I was pretty nervous.

"She has a 202kg total - she's good.

"She's a little older than me and turning 20 this year, so she has been training a lot longer."

While she will now take a break from competition and the associated travel, Harwood said there were no plans to stop training.

"I'll probably do a little less than normal, but next year I'll pick it up again and be doing something a lot closer to full-time, while still concentrating on (tertiary) study," she said.

For now Harwood will focus on completing her VCE.

She hopes to study dietetics at university next year, which will involve a move to either Melbourne or Geelong.