Claire Nahi is a teacher at Avondale College in Auckland, where she also coaches the school weightlifting programme. She is a decorated Masters lifter herself, and represents Papatoetoe Olympic Weightlifting Club (POWC). Claire sat down Paule Poulin to discuss her coaching, and the school programme. If you'd like to develop secondary school lifting in your area, please get in touch!
How did you get into weightlifting?
I started doing Crossfit and I hated it, but I really loved the weightlifting side of it. Rick Pickard from John Walker’s Find Your Field of Dreams Foundation had approached the Trusts Stadium to see if they could bring their Lift out West programme in. A friend happened to be the CEO of the Trusts so approached me to see if it was something I was interested in, as he knew I had done some lifting. This eventually led me to contacting Simon Kent which started my journey into training at POWC and coaching the students.
You are a Physical Education teacher at Avondale College. When did you decide to start coaching students there in weightlifting?
Initially the coaching was done by Sake and George from POWC at the Trusts Stadium. Simon then ran an Australian Weightlifting Federation coaching course, which I completed. This meant I could take over the coaching role. Eventually the Sports Director upgraded the gym at school to enable us to train here. This has meant that rather than once a week, we now train five times a fortnight.
How many student athletes are involved in weightlifting at Avondale and what is the process for them to get involved?
Right now, we have nine athletes doing weightlifting. Word of mouth is what gets students through the door, and we have more demand than the space can accommodate. The sports office got us a space which is great because we can train at school.
How are your athletes from Avondale connected to POWC?
They come and train at POWC’s location at Kolmar and are part of the Club. I coach other high school athletes from POWC in competition. I try to bring the club values from POWC into the Avondale team. We have other young athletes at POWC and I help with them as well, like this weekend at National Secondary Schools Championships.
What are your greatest accomplishments as a coach, and what are your aspirations for the future?
There is not one single thing. It is not about certain numbers or placings. I just want the athletes to love the sport like I do. I want to help them grow as people and learn something from this sport. In the meantime, I learn a lot about myself as well, for example about teamwork, resilience, and well-being. I just want to keep encouraging athletes to get and stay in the sport.
How do you balance your own lifting with coaching?
There are some long days between coaching, my job teaching, and my own training but I do love helping young athletes learn about lifting and life.
You have the Oceania Masters Championships next weekend, and the Masters World Championships coming up in December in Orlando USA. What are your goals for those?
I am aiming for Oceania Masters records in my age group and weight class (W50-54 87kg) in Australia at Oceanias, which are 53 kg in the snatch, and 67 kg in the clean and jerk*. For Masters Worlds, I am going to enjoy the experience at the top of my age group. Next year I level up into the next age group and would love to take a crack at the World Masters records in the snatch which is 54 kg.
Congratulations to Claire, the Avondale College team (Girls Team Champions) and the wider POWC team with their huge presence (17 lifters) and performances at the Secondary School Championships.
*Claire accomplished this achieving 58kg in the Snatch and 68kg and in the Clean & Jerk