Richie Patterson set to write a new chapter in storied weightlifting career

It was one of the most enduring images of the Commonwealth Games - New Zealand weightlifting's biggest medal hope Richie Patterson in tears after failing to post a score in the men's 85kg final.

Patterson was the defending champion, looking to end his stellar career on a high. Instead, it literally came crashing down.

"Like you saw, and I'm sure New Zealand saw, that was pretty heart-breaking that performance on the Gold Coast" Patterson told Newshub.

That moment though doesn't define Patterson's career.

He has been the face of weightlifting in this country for over a decade. The Gold Coast was his fourth Commonwealth Games, the most of any New Zealand weightlifter.

His name sits alongside the likes of Nigel Avery, Darren Liddel, Tony Ebert, Graham May, Don Oliver, Harold Cleghorn and more recently David Liti as the only male competitors to have won gold at the Commonwealth Games. He's also one of seven male athletes to have won a medal at multiple Games.

To go with his Commonwealth exploits, he also represented New Zealand at three Olympic Games, a feat only he and Oliver have achieved.

After the emotions and disappointment of the Gold Coast, it's been those achievements that Patterson has been able to reflect on as he looks back on a 20-year career.

Richie Patterson at the Commonwealth Games.
Richie Patterson at the Commonwealth Games. Photo credit: Photosport

"I've taken the time to look at it, and I'm exceptionally proud of what I set out and achieved.

"A lot of it was from the help of family and friends and sponsors. We know weightlifting doesn't receive a whole heap of funding, so we do it on our own back.

"We do it because we love it and I look back on that and go; I achieve what I wanted to achieve because I truly loved what I was doing."

It took years of sacrifice for Patterson to achieve what he did. He set up his gym Functional Strength Crossfit in Rosedale to help fund his dream of winning gold in Glasgow.

While he had a lot of support from others he admitted it wasn't easy, but looking back on that journey and how the dream became a reality.

"I'm truly glad I did it."

But now, Patterson is now focused on ensuring his legacy can continue.

"My passion is weightlifting, and as an athlete, I'm moving now into administrative and coaching roles," the 34-year-old said.

"The knowledge that I've gained across my athletic career is invaluable now as a coach so to share is the best thing I can do."

Patterson has been making the transition into coaching since 2012. He coached his wife Pip on the Gold Coast and had significant input into Cameron McTaggart's rise and selection into the recent 12-strong Commonwealth Games squad.

But now with his career as a competitor over he can put his entire focus on full-time coaching and building the profile of the sport in this country.

Patterson was at his home gym this weekend as part of a New Zealand Youth and Junior Development Camp held over the school holidays.

On Saturday they held a competition for the athletes to help them qualify for the upcoming Oceania Championships. It was also a chance for Patterson to give feedback to the coaches to help better prepare them for international competitions.

"We've got a number of coaches here we're teaching strategic competition approaches.

"We're pairing them with athletes that they haven't worked with before so they're learning interpersonal skills and learning how to get a result out of an athlete on the competition platform."

There were some impressive performances from the athletes, whose ages ranged from 13 to 17 years old - but none more impressive than Kanah Andrews-Nahu.

Andrews-Nahu broke a national record in her weight class. She snatched 91kg - 20kg more than her body weight, a feat made possible thanks to the guidance of the two-time Commonwealth games medallist Patterson, who is her coach.

The 17-year-old Andrews-Nahu's goal is to qualify for the Youth Olympic Games, and Patterson likes her chances.

"Obviously we've just come back from the Commonwealth Games, and we've kind of seen the top tier of New Zealand weightlifting but we've got this groundswell of youth talent that's phenomenal underneath us and Kanah is one of them," said Patterson.

Andrews-Nahu is even lifting heavier weights than what Patterson was lifting at the same age.

And if the performances of Andrews-Nahu is anything to go by, no doubt there will be lot more joy to come as Patterson looks to make New Zealand weightlifting stronger than it's been before.


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