By Melissa Wong | For The Shoreline
**Photo: SUPPORT TEAM—Liam Abbott, left, of Paradise, had lots of support for his effort to make Canada’s national weightlifting team during a qualifying event on Saturday. On hand were Liam’s grandmother Betty Abbott of Mount Pearl, who borrowed two officiating flags from referee Shawn Hartery for this photo, and Liam’s dad, Tom Abbott, himself a former competitive weightlifter.**
Liam Abbott, 15, qualified for the National Juniors when he made his personal best lift on Saturday.
During the 2018 Fall Invitational Meet Dec. 1, Liam said that he felt like there was “no way” that he would quality until he lifted a snatch of 60 kilograms, and a clean and jerk of 75 kg.
“It felt amazing,” he said.
The Holy Spirit High School student became involved in weightlifting when he heard his father, Tom Abbott, chatting with his uncle about being in the Canadian Weightlifting Championships. Liam became interested and asked his father if he could get involved.
As a certified weightlifting coach in the Newfoundland and Labrador Weightlifting Association (NLWA) and former Canadian Games competitor, Tom helped his son become a weightlifter.
“I just kept going with dad,” Liam said.
Liam not only lifts weights, but he also plays hockey like his twin brother, Quinn Abbott.
Betty Abbott, Tom’s mother and Liam’s grandmother, attended the Fall Invitational Meet in the Reilly Room at the Newfoundland Sports Centre on Crosbie Road, St. John’s. Betty was there to watch her grandson compete.
Betty is from Mount Pearl, and she has seen a few weightlifting competitions over the years.
According to Betty, when Tom was 12-years-old she brought him to a doctor because she was worried, he would hurt himself lifting the weights she bought him. The doctor helped Tom, and by the time Tom was 13-years-old, he was already a professional weightlifter.
Betty said that her son has lifted weights for 35 years, which is longer than the NLWA has been around. Tom traveled to the Canadian Summer Games and got into Olympic weightlifting.
Now, Betty has witnessed her grandson qualifying to go to the National Canadian Juniors.
Best friends lift together
Lisa Sheppard’s and Nancy Hicks last lifted in the Canadian games in 1998 and Hicks won the gold medal.
Both women have returned to weightlifting after 18 years.
Sheppard and Hicks are from Paradise, they met in kindergarten and have been friends ever since. When they were teenagers, they began weightlifting under the guidance of their teacher and coach, Leigh Willis.
According to Sheppard and Hicks, they decided they would lift again when their coach came home, and they were all reunited. They began lifting again in July.
Sheppard and Hicks are 35 plus masters who are working towards qualifying for World Masters.
Chris Crotty is the president of the NLWA, and a weightlifter who has competed in 2017 Sweden and 2018 Spain World Masters. Michelle Crotty said that like Sheppard and Hicks, Chris is working towards qualifying for World Masters again.
Michelle is the NLWA secretary and Chris’ wife, she updates the Association’s Facebook page and websites, handles funding, etc. NLWA is a registered non-for-profit that has a 20-person membership in the province.
Like Liam, the youngest member of the association, many weightlifter members are just trying to reach high and carry their weight.