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Flame on: Katia has a new calling

Katia Mackenzie is taking a break from powerlifting to concentrate on becoming a qualified chef. PHOTO/STEVE RENDLE

Katia an inspiration, says Dad


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Powerlifter Katia Mackenzie is exchanging the heat of competition for the heat of the grill.

After an exhausting year of international travel, regular training and huge success at last year’s world championships in Canada, Mackenzie, 18, said on Wednesday that she needed time away from the sport to give her body a rest.

So this year, the former Wairarapa College student will focus on studying to become a chef at WelTec in Wellington.

Daily training had taken a toll on her body, Mackenzie, who works at Iberia cafe in Masterton, said.

“I was not enjoying it as much as I used to. I guess training pretty much every day took some of the enjoyment from it,” she said.

“Who knows, maybe I’ll get back into it in a few years. I just want to take a bit of a break.

“It’s a bit of a different direction for me, and something I kind of just figured out recently. I’m quite looking forward to it.”

The hugely-talented Mackenzie started powerlifting in 2017 and needed just a year of training under her father, Bevan, to earn selection into the national team bound for the IPF World Classic Powerlifting Championships in Alberta last June.

She proceeded to break four New Zealand records and two Oceania records at that meet. She also finished third in the squat for the sub-junior 72kg category, and fifth overall, with a total lift of 362.5kg [145kg squat, 70kg bench press, 147.5 deadlift].

She was also named best overall sub junior lifter at last year’s New Zealand nationals and was ranked 42nd overall in New Zealand’s strongest women, across all weight and age classes.

Katia Mackenzie … taking a break from powerlifting. PHOTO/FILE

She had set national records in squat, bench and deadlift in her category, as well as the total overall record.

For her exploits, she won the Wairarapa Times-Age Youth Sports Personality of the Year award and the Wairarapa Maori Sports Awards’ Tai Ohi Wahine [female secondary school student] category last year.

She said she was grateful for the opportunities she’d been given.

“I had a lot of support from the Wairarapa community and I think it’s just been such a cool experience.

“It’s hard to pick a favourite memory but going to Canada was awesome. I enjoyed meeting all the athletes. It was cool sharing the same passion with all those people.”

While her powerlifting is on hold for now Mackenzie has not ruled out giving other sports a go.

“Dad competed in quite a few bodybuilding competitions a while back, and so did my Mum – I might try to do the same thing.”

Bevan Mackenzie, who operates Masterton’s Wai Weight Gym, said his daughter was an inspiration for others.

“She’s shown a lot of women that they can lift, and lift well.”

He said his daughter had started bodybuilding training and was enjoying it.

“I think she enjoys the variety of exercises you do for bodybuilding. The most important thing is that she’s healthy and enjoys what she’s doing.”

He said that there had been some pressure on Mackenzie to do well in powerlifting as she was competing in the Under-18 categories.

“Basically, that was her one chance to do well at that level, but now she’s past that, she’s in the open category and can return after a few years study if she wants to. If she wants to lift again, it’ll be totally up to her and I think she’d do well because of that.”

Bevan Mackenzie said his daughter would be helping at the gym’s next powerlifting competition.

“Katia’s very humble, she doesn’t put herself out there too much and I think that’s what makes people like her so much.”

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