A Kapiti College student is impressing in the sport of weightlifting, despite having had surgery to combat a painful condition in her calves.
Matanoko McDonald, a Year 12 student, placed second in the 75kg + weight class at the Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand National Secondary School Championships held at the 41 Degrees Weightlifting Club, Petone.
The 17-year-old had personal best lifts in both the snatch, 66kg, as well as the clean and jerk, 83kg, giving her a 149 total.
"Last year I wasn't even close to those weights."
She normally competes in the under 75kg category but moved up for the over 75kg category for the secondary school championships.
"My coach and I decided to move up a category so I could gain more muscle."
Matanoko was one kilogram off from qualifying for the Commonwealth and Oceanic Championships which was held on the Gold Coast this month.
"But I'm looking at competing there as a junior lifter within the next few years, and I think the Commonwealth Games in 2020 is a goal I'm looking towards."
Her next competition is the New Zealand Senior and Junior Championships in Dunedin next month where she will compete as an under 75kg lifter.
"My goal for the event is to increase my lifts and total, and enjoy it as much as possible as it's my first national event.
"Even though I'm a youth lifter I have achieved the qualifying standards to be a junior and senior lifter making me eligible to compete at this national national event."
Matanoko is ranked second in New Zealand in the improvement rankings, and is currently ranked third overall in New Zealand as a youth and junior lifter under 75kg, with a C grade total.
And she has been involved in the sport for only 13 months.
"I had compartment syndrome in my calves.
"There wasn't room in my legs for the muscles to expand properly when I exercised so it was quite painful.
"I was a competitive swimmer and played netball but I had to quit all of that because I had surgery on my legs.
"After that I was looking for things to do which were low impact, didn't involve much running, or things that were hard on my calves.
"I stumbled across a family friend who was doing CrossFit and weightlifting and thought that was something I could do.
"Since then I've just been hooked."
Matanoko trains six to eight times a week at Kiwi CrossFit doing CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting.