Kaeley (Ngāti Porou), a kaiwhakarite at Te Puna Mātauranga, will compete at the 2018 National Junior and Senior Championships for olympic weightlifting being held in Auckland.
The winners will be selected for the New Zealand team, which will then go on to other competitions as they seek to meet or better the qualifying standards for the Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo in two years.
The 20-year-old admits to nerves ahead of the big competition but also a steely determination to make the team.
“I have put so much time and effort into my training so I believe I’m ready. I just have to remain calm, be positive and believe in myself.”
“The three words I think about when I lift, and I also have them tattooed, are strong, fast and fearless.”
Kaeley is competing in the under-69kg category for women in both the junior and senior sections in the snatch and the clean and jerk movements.
She’s been a star of the local weightlifting scene since taking up the sport in 2015 after winning teen CrossFit titles the year before.
Kaeley won bronze at the Oceania Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea, silver at the Youth Commonwealth Games in Samoa and gold at the the New Zealand National Championships – all in her first year in the sport.
She broke New Zealand Youth and Junior reords in the under 63kg category, won the Australasian CrossFit Games (youth) title and finished 12th in the world, but competing at the Olympics is a long-held dream.
“It would mean everything to me! I love this sport so much. Knowing that it could be a possibility to represent our country at such a high level makes me so happy.”
Kaeley has three attempts in both movements to qualify for the team. She says competition will be fierce but her personal bests in both movements are greater than the current national records.
“For the snatch I have to get a 77kg (PB 81kg) and for the clean and jerk I have to get 98kg (PB 101kg),” she said.
“The snatch I am pretty confident about but there are so many good competitors.”
You can watch the livestream of Kaeley’s lift tomorrow at 10.30am at