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Tenacious teen Tiggy Sadler-Barker eyeing off powerlifting world title

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Newcastle could soon be home to a new world champion if a determined Tiggy Sadler-Barker fulfils a lifelong dream.

The tenacious teenager is eyeing off global success when she ventures to Romania this month.

The 18-year-old will represent Australia at the IPF World Classic and Equipped Sub-Junior & Junior Powerlifting Championships at Cluj-Napoca from 24 August to 3 September.

“I can’t wait, I’m incredibly excited,” she said.

“This is my first time competing at Worlds and a chance to atone for a disappointing result at the IPF (International Powerlifting Federation) Commonwealth Championships in November.

“Unfortunately, I got disqualified in squats, due to some technical issues in my technique.

“So, I didn’t receive the necessary two or three white lights that signify a good lift.

“You must hit a certain standard… and I’ll learn from that.

“Since then, over the past few months, I’ve been really working hard on my technique to ensure that I get white lights all around.

“My focus is solely on Romania now.

I couldn’t even squat 60kg, now I’m doing 152kg.

Tiggy Sadler-Barker

“It’s just an opportunity that I never, ever thought I would get.

“I qualified for state, then nationals where you have to place either first or second, and achieve the required total, to go to Worlds.

“I won my age and weight category (under-76kg sub-junior).

“I also registered the state and national records.

“But, I’ll move into juniors in 2024 since I’m turning 19 next year.”

So, how does a youngster who’s studying a Bachelor of Education (Secondary) at the University of Newcastle, find herself if the competitive world of powerlifting?

“I blame my dad (James),” Sadler-Barker said with a laugh.

“To be honest, I stopped swimming and surf lifesaving, which I’d been doing for a few years, and my father asked ‘Hey, do you want to come to an open day at a gym called Strength Republic?’, which is in Hamilton.

“It’s an amazing place.

“I began doing the classes there, a bit of CrossFit and style, with a little bit of squats, dead lifts and bench.

“One day, I was squatting and the person who coached me first commented ‘oh, your knees are caving in because you can’t squat 60kg because you’re doing this’.

“And, it’s crazy to look back on.

“I couldn’t even squat 60kg, now I’m doing 152kg.

“Then I started looking down the track and thought maybe I should get a coach and try powerlifting.

“I did my first competition in December 2021 after all the COVID lockdowns.

“And, I’ve been absolutely smashing it with my coach Aiden Potts ever since.

“I love it, powerlifting is for anyone.

“No matter what gender you are, what weight category you’re in, it is really a sport for everyone.”

I’d like to pave the way for younger women to get into the weights and powerlifting because it’s such an empowering sport

Tiggy Sadler-Barker

Despite being relatively new to powerlifting, Sadler-Barker is setting the bar high, beginning with a big performance at the IPF World Championships.

“In the past, I’ve really focused on numbers… and I’d be like, I want to hit this, this and this,” she said.

“I have changed my mindset; I just want to do the best I can.

“I want to be my strongest version on that platform.

“If I go nine-for-nine, or close to it, it increases my chances of a podium finish.

“That’s the goal.

“I want to bring home a few medals for Australia… and I know that I have a chance at doing that, which is insane.

“There are so many strong young women in my weight category that it’s going to be a really, really cool event.

“However, it would be terrific to win a world title.

“I’ve done so many sports… swimming, tennis, martial arts – it’s probably more what haven’t I done?

“So, it’s brilliant to find something like this and improve each and every day.

“Although this is the pinnacle of the sport at the moment, I understand there’s a push to include powerlifting at the Olympics or Commonwealth Games.

“I think that would be great, because we have such dedicated athletes in the sport.”

Sadler-Barker is quick to thank many people for her rapid rise, particularly Grow A Star.

The innovative, youth mentoring and scholarship program helps young people from disadvantaged backgrounds overcome the financial or generational obstacles that prevent them from following their academic, sporting or artistic aspirations.

“Grow A Star, and the foundation, has really assisted me on my journey,” she told the Newcastle Weekly.

“They’ve been incredible.

“Plus, the support from people from my gym, Hunter Performance Centre.

“Then there’s dad, who’s helped me out a lot.

“He is the one who started it all, who kind of lit the fire to get me to compete.

“There have been quite a few people in my life who’ve helped.

“I must say, I have a very good support system around me.

“But, I want to be a role model for others, too.

“I’d like to pave the way for younger women to get into the weights and powerlifting because it’s such an empowering sport.

“It’s amazing to feel so strong… I get a lot of confidence from that.

“So, I definitely want to encourage more girls to take up the sport.

“It’s probably something they’d never think of.

“However, if anyone’s like me, and they can’t find a sport that they think is suited for them, then powerlifting might be that avenue.

“At the end of the day, it’s amazing, it’s accepting, it’s encouraging and it’s just fun… very fun.”

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