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After one Olympic Games and three Commonwealth Games New Zealand weightlifter, Mark Spooner, has decided to call an end to his career.
Spooner has enjoyed 15 successful years in the sport, including representing his country at numerous Junior and Senior World Championships and most notably the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
A boat builder by trade, Spooner began his weightlifting career in 1999 and, like many New Zealand weightlifters, trained at the famous Gillies Ave Weightlifting Gym in Auckland, under the watchful eye of weightlifting legend, Precious McKenzie.
In 2002, when AUT Millennium, formerly Millennium Institute of Sport and Health, opened its doors Spooner was one of the first athletes to relocate to the facility where his career soon began to take off.
“We were put into what was called the PowerZone on the outer-limits of the indoor track. I remember one evening painting the walls yellow with other lifters Richie Patterson, Grant Cavit, Robert Katu and Coach Richard Dryden,” he says.
Since that day he has been heavily involved with AUT Millennium both as a scholarship athlete and as a member of NorthSport Olympic Weightlifting Club, which is based at the facility.
Spooner came out of retirement to compete at the Commonwealth Games for one last time and took 18 months off work to ensure he was prepared.
Preparations couldn’t have been better for the weightlifter who won the under-69kg class at the Oceania Championships prior to the Games. Unfortunately that form could not be replicated and he was left with a sixth place finish in Glasgow.
“I had very promising results seven weeks prior at the Oceania’s on my second attempts and narrowly missed some New Zealand record attempts on my last lifts in the snatch and clean & jerk, he says.”
“My mind was there, completely focused and positive. I committed all of my strength to every lift and know I had nothing left to give, so I find satisfaction in knowing I gave it my all and I did enjoy being out there one last time trying to bring back a medal for New Zealand.”
In his second attempt at retirement Spooner is confident that he has made the right choice but is well aware that he will miss competing at the highest level.
“I will definitely miss the satisfaction of everything coming together on the day after the many months building up to the competition knowing that you got everything out of your body,” he says.
“I will also miss the weightlifting family, not only nationally, but the international lifters that I have got to know over many years.”
Like many world-class athletes, the next goal is in sight for Spooner. At the end of the year he will leave New Zealand to further his career as a First Officer in the yachting industry.
“I am starting out of Florida on a super-yacht, which will take me all over the place. I am pretty open-minded to where that will take me, but I do hope to follow the continual success of our New Zealand up-and-coming lifters.”
Spooner was full of praise for AUT Millennium, the facility he has called home for over a decade.
“The support from AUT Millennium has been amazing, I consider myself to have been very lucky to have had these great facilities to train at for the majority of my lifting career,” he says.
The friendships I have made and the generous support from all the lovely staff is priceless. Let alone the financial help we got as individual athletes from the Golf Days and other fundraisers. I would say my weightlifting career would not have been as long as it was had I not been involved with AUT Millennium.”
Channel Magazine: Issuu 49 November 2014