Click here to submit your sports results for The Canberra Times

Tough ladies face up to a weighty challenge

They put plenty to shame in the gym, and now three Canberra women are looking to impress on the international stage as part of the Australian team competing at the Oceania powerlifting and bench press championship in Sydney next week.

Melanie Flett will be the only Australian woman competing in the 72 kilogram weight class and the qualified personal trainer and powerlifting coach is on track to re-write the record books.

''It looks like I'll hopefully set the Australian bench press record in my weight class in this comp,'' she said. ''It's 80 kilos, so fingers crossed I do that on the day.''

After a couple of years of powerlifting, 25-year-old Flett reached the Elite II total of 330kg across the squat, bench press and deadlift which she needed to qualify for the national level earlier this year.

But she has to fit in her gruelling training schedule, four two-and-a-half hours sessions per week, around a full time public service job.

''I'm in IT… so it's a good way to get out and stay active. Powerlifting gives me a break, getting out from behind the desk.''


Flett fell into the sport after discovering she had a ''good genetic base for it,'' which ideally means a body similar to a typical weightlifter.

''Short, thick limbs [and] short levers so it means you don't have to move the weight anywhere near as far.

''And as bad as this sounds, the thicker you are through the torso the better - not necessarily overweight, but thick,'' she said.

Flett will be joined on the team by Megan Hinchley and Elizabeth Craven in the 52kg class, with the three Canberrans, who all train under Pete Sutton, comprising a quarter of the Australian women's team.

Hinchley and Craven are both full time personal trainers, with Arnot on track to reach the top, Elite I level in Sydney. For Flett, the goal at the Championships is improvement.

''I've got some numbers in mind for what I should be able to hit, and then fingers crossed I can hit at least them, if not better,'' she said.

''We compete three or four times a year, the game plan is each competition you go to, to lift slightly more than the competition before.''