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Dawning of a new era: Weightlifting Federation holds first competition

With a fast growing fitness community, Cayman welcomed it’s first Olympic Weightlifting competition Saturday (8 September) at the Arts and Recreation Centre in Camana Bay.

Event organiser and founder of the newly formed Cayman Islands Weightlifting Federation Matt Barnett says growing interest and a passion for the sport drove him to take action.

“At my gym, Crossfit Cayman, we teach these lifts. There’s an interest for it on the island. Right now, you can go out and play football, volleyball, there’s a lot of sports you can get involved with, basketball. There’s no outlet for the weightlifters here in Cayman.”

With lifters ages 20-55 thrusting up to 300 pounds in both the snatch as well as clean and jerk, Barnett says the response to Saturday’s event was a strong start.

“There’s about 20 people, which is great for the first time. We expected maybe five.”

First time competitor Aaron Bernardo said the competition was an incredible experience.

“Competing in the Cayman national Weightlifting competition was something totally different and new for me. There was a mixture of emotions from the excitement and nervousness of taking part but also the anxiety of not wanting to fail a lift. Coach Mike and Coach Matt definitely helped me feel comfortable and reassured me to just try my best.”

‘Coach Mike’ is former United States Olympian and Head Coach Michael Cohen. Cohen was on hand pulling double duty, as both mentor and judge. Barnett says it’s a promising sign that Cayman has the support of an established international body from the outset.

“USA Weightlifting and the International Weightlifting Federation community wants Cayman to be a country in the IWF.”

As Barnett makes his case for the support of the newly founded federation, he points to other associations with a similar make-up and track record of success.

“It’s an individual sport, which you know we’ve seen Cayman do well in swimming, or golf, other individual sports. It’s a lot easier to get funding for that because you’re only funding one person at the end of the day.”

Sounds like Cayman’s Olympic Weightlifters are ready to make some noise.

Here’s a look at all the athletes who participated in Cayman’s first Olympic Weightlifting competition:

Melanie Shulman
Vickie Clark
Amanda Hilditch
Renata Kecskes
Valerie Randrianasolo
Sheryl Cohen
Brianna Wilkerson
Debbie Ann Whyte
Tomy Wilkerson
Nathan Gemmiti
Alasadair Robertson
Nick Rogers
Cameron Leitch
Alessandro Sax
Aaron Bernardo
Gabriel Sarasin

About the author

Jordan Armenise

Jordan Armenise

Jordan Armenise began his sports broadcasting journey with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League (CFL). It was in this role where he was able to craft the immersive and enthusiastic approach to reporting, broadcasting and production you see here today in Cayman's sports community.

Jordan has also worked behind the scenes for a number of Canadian broadcasting & production companies such as CBC Sports, Cineflix Productions and Cream Productions.

Did he mention he was St. Clare of Assisi's 1994 Athlete of the Year?

Now dubbed 'The Sports Guy', Jordan relishes the role as Cayman 27 Sports Producer, where he can tell the stories of Cayman’s athletes. You can reach Jordan at 333.6521 or

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