A Māori powerlifter takes centre stage at Berlin Special Olympics
Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
A Māori powerlifter from Invercargill is living up to her ambitions, taking the stage at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Berlin.
The powerlifting series is underway and lifter Lynett Williams (30) from Ngai Tūhoe is aiming to do her very best as she enters competition mode.
It is the world's largest inclusive event for people with intellectual disabilities, and Williams plans to meet her ultimate goal, which is “to have fun and compete.”
Over 7000 athletes from 190 countries are competing in 26 sports in Berlin.
Williams is competing alongside 38 other athletes from New Zealand in nine sports.
She’s reminding everyone to support the New Zealand athletes by following them on social media and supporting them from a distance.
Williams says she’s excited to “meet new people and be part of a big team” as well as to do her best in her own sport.
Williams started powerlifting eight years ago; her personal best is currently lifting a 50kg squat, 45kg bench, and 110kg deadlifts.
Powerlifting Head Coach Sonia Manaena says the challenges Lynett faced were “huge” leading up to these games.
“Lynett had so many people in her ear 24/7 giving advice, but it weighed heavy at times. We both pushed through that at training focusing only on lifting, and Lynett’s happy place in lifting is the ‘deadlift’, the most head-clearing technic and body strength challenge.”
She says how Williams' path to the games was a long progress but her passion kept her motivated.
“Her dream was to represent Special Olympics New Zealand at the World Games. She set goals with me and trained strongly to achieve these goals.”
Williams attributes her success to her team, colleagues, and coach Sonia Manaena.
Manaena says as her coach; it has been a life lesson.
“Enjoying meeting people like Lynett Williams; it’s wonderful to be a part of her achieving and experiencing the best that Lynett can be.”
Head of Delegation Rowena Massey says athletes are embracing the spotlight at the games.
Massey says that anyone in the squad can potentially win a medal but to “keep an eye on our powerlifters.”
“You just feel that these World Summer Games are next level. Whatever the results, this will all be life-changing for our athletes.”
Massey is encouraging everyone to overcome obstacles and challenges with the support of others.
“Competing in sport enables our athletes to smash through that glass ceiling and truly show what people can achieve when given the opportunity to shine!”
Hero Image: Lynett Williams in training. Photo / Supplied