Chleo Van Wyk and Odell Manuel back in Rockhampton after competing overseas. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin
Chleo Van Wyk and Odell Manuel back in Rockhampton after competing overseas. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin Allan Reinikka

Odell and Chleo shine against the world’s best

ODELL Manuel and Chleo van Wyk are basking in international recognition after proving their strength on the world stage.

The Rockhampton powerlifters went head to head with some of the strongest athletes in the world at the Battle of Champions and World Powerlifting Championships in Russia and South Africa recently.

Manuel travelled to Russia for the Battle of Champions and said he was blown away by the level of competition.

"If you're a powerlifter you soon find out the Russians are the best at it and that was actually their best competition, so I was glad to be there. It was an honour," Manuel said.

"The intensity that the Russians have. I really respect the conditions that they are in and they still turn up and the intensity they have at training.

"I actually got to go to their gym over there and I'll be looking to my next training cycle just to emulate what they were doing and hopefully it's going to work out better for my total."

While Manuel didn't take top honours at the event, he was chuffed to have rubbed shoulders with his idols and to record the biggest deadlift in Australian history, 400kg.

"Personally I was just glad to be with the best. I probably didn't get what I wanted to get but I'm glad I at least got what I did," he said.

"I can take that as a positive. it wasn't the highest there but it is the biggest deadlift in Australia so I'll take that as a win.

"The guy that beat me lifted 410 and he's actually my idol too. To be beaten by my idol is quite epic.

"His name is Mikhail Koklyaev and he's an all-round lifter.

"He's a weightlifter, powerlifter and strongman, so in my eyes is one of the best lifters ever.

"I actually went against my other idol too KK (Konstantin Konstantinov) and I beat him. Don't know what happened there but I'll take that as a win."

Nearly 8000km away, fellow Rocky powerlifter, South Africa-born van Wyk thrived on home soil.

"Nothing really has changed but I loved seeing the family and being there," she said.

"It's sort of a warm feeling inside knowing that you come from there and knowing that you're part of the country.

"It's all sort of familiar but in the end you're representing another country, so I feel very, very proud and honoured to able to do it.

"It was mind blowing and it was a whole other experience. I can't wait for next year, I really, really want to do it all over again and the sky is the limit really."

The 23-year-old dominated in her first international competition to become the highest achieving Australian woman in history at the event.

"I got silver in my deadlift and fourth overall. For my first world championships I was the first Australian girl to place fourth in the open women's division and it was my first ever competition overseas and apparently that's extremely good," she said.

"It's only going to get better from here. I'm really gobsmacked because I had no idea that this was my potential.

"I just wanted to do my best and what happened on the day just happened on the day. You just have to roll with the punches and try and do your best no matter what."

The pair is preparing for their next big challenge with Manuel hoping to contest the World Powerlifting Championships in Sydney in November and van Wyk set to contest the Oceania and Powerlifting Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in December.



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