It’s rare for two major weightlifting competitions to be just weeks apart, but Whitehorse’s Emily Quarton is approaching the unusual circumstance with a positive attitude – as positive as circumstances allow.
The 26-year-old just returned to Montreal, where she is attending university, after finishing 20th in the 58-kilogram class at the World Weightlifting Championships in Antalya, Turkey on Sunday. She now has less than two weeks to prepare for the now-infamous Commonwealth Games next month in Delhi, India.
“I was cautious in my warm-up and I held back on the platform,” said Quarton. “My last attempt I went out and wanted it. I went in with a different attitude from my other attempts. I talked to the (Team Canada) coach afterwards and he said, ‘In two weeks I’m going to coach you again and I want the same attitude right from the first attempt.’
“So that’s the biggest thing I’m taking with me.
“I’m not going to hold back in Delhi – as long as we go.”
Although Quarton finished 11th in the same class at last year’s world championships, she is pleased with her placement considering this year’s event had fiercer competition as athletes begin to focus on London’s Olympic Games in 2012.
“Last year was a weaker year. In the first world championships after the Olympics the teams are always less strong,” said Quarton. “This year, because it’s an Olympic qualifier, I was happy to make 20th.
“I’m not completely disappointed, but I’m not satisfied,” she added. “I definitely think I could have done better. I was really far off my personal best.”
To squeeze into the top-20, Quarton topped out at 80 kilograms in the snatch and 104 in the clean and jerk, down from her personal best of 90 and 108 kilograms.
In the snatch Quarton made her first lift but failed on her second two. In the clean and jerk, in what she calls a “rookie mistake,” she did the opposite, missing just her first attempt.
“I don’t know what happened – I lost my focus for a second,” said Quarton. “It’s frustrating because my last attempt was at 104 kilograms, which is a good weight for me, but I did it really easily and if I had made my first attempt I would have been able to try 107 kilograms. I think I was strong enough to do it that day.”
One of three Yukoners on the way to the Commonwealth Games, Quarton wants to focus on preparing to compete, but recent news out of India is a distraction.
Currently there are raging doubts of Delhi’s readiness to host the Games with the collapse of a walking bridge near a venue this week, incomplete construction of the athletes’ residence and rumours of unsanitary conditions, and even an outbreak of dengue fever.
So far some Canadian athletes have delayed their departure for India and, as of press time, two Canadian archers cancelled their trip.
“I don’t know what to think, it’s all a bit crazy,” said Quarton. “I don’t know much more than anyone else – I just got back from Turkey and I’m fighting a cold. So basically I’m just focusing on what I have to do.
“As far as I’ve been told, nothing is changing. But every time I sit down at the computer, there’s new news and everyone is talking about it so, yeah, it’s a little scary.
“I’ve never heard of anything like this happening before.”
It will be the Whitehorse native’s second trip to the Commonwealth Games, which are taking place October 3-14. She competed at the 2006 Games in Melbourne, Australia, winning silver in the 58-kilogram class.
Quarton qualified for the Games team in May at the Canadian Senior Championships in St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, taking first in the 58-kilogram class.
Hoping to close out her 10-year career on a high-note, Quarton is considering retiring from competition after the Games.
“I’ve come to the point where I have other things in my life that I’d like to spend more time doing,” Quarton told the News before the World Championships. “I love weightlifting and I’ve had so many amazing experiences. I feel like I’ve made lots of sacrifices – and I’ve never regretted any of them – but I’m at the point where I want to try new things.
“The Commonwealth Games in 2006 was the highlight of my career and so I feel, going to India, this would be such a great place to finish and say goodbye to an amazing 10 years in sport.”
Although possibly leaving the competitive side of the sport, she intends to stay involved, helping the next generation of weightlifters reach their goals.
“I can see myself coaching and being involved in the sport for a long time, just not necessarily at the place I am now,” said Quarton.
If she decides to close the books on her competitive career, it won’t be without a lengthy list of achievements.
Last year Quarton won gold for her weight-class at the Canadian Weightlifting Championships, earning a trip to last year’s world championships.
In December of 2008, she took gold in the North American Open and won Best Female Lifter, given out to the best overall – not just from each weight class. She also won gold at the Canadian Weightlifting Championships in 2008, qualifying her to be first-alternate for the Canadian Olympic team.
Surprisingly, Quarton’s huge year in 2008 came after missing most of 2007 with a back injury – not to say she didn’t have achievements before 2007.
Aside from winning silver at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, with a combined lift of 178 kilograms, she was awarded Best Female Lifter honours at the Quebec Senior Championships in Montreal.
Before making the transition into the adult class, Quarton was also a force to be reckoned with on the junior circuit, winning gold medals for her weight class at the Junior Canadian Weightlifting Championships in both 2001 and 2002.
Also representing Canada – and, by extension, the Yukon – at the Commonwealth Games is swimmer Mackenzie Downing, currently studying at the University of Victoria, and cyclist Zach Bell. Racing at the 2010 Track Cycling Canadian Championships last month in Bromont, Quebec, Bell established himself as Canada’s premier track cyclist, dominating the field with four gold medals.
Contact Tom Patrick at