Weightlifter Quarton takes fifth at Commonwealth Games

While weightlifter Emily Quarton produced some of her best lifts in recent months, including at the world championships last month, it wasn't enough for a podium spot at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India.

While weightlifter Emily Quarton produced some of her best lifts in recent months, including at the world championships last month, it wasn’t enough for a podium spot at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India.

Competing in the women’s 58-kilogram class, the Whitehorse native lifted a combined 185 kilograms for a fifth-place finish on Wednesday.

“Obviously I was hoping to be on the podium, but it turned out that our weight-class was one of the more competitive, so we knew it was going to be a real fight to get on the podium,” said Quarton. “It would have taken the best shape of my career to get there, and I wasn’t in my best shape.

“So I knew before the competition that it would be tough. It seems like it’s only three kilos, but I think those girls could have done four kilos more if that’s what it would have taken.”

The 26-year-old, who is studying early childhood education in Montreal at Concordia University, only made one of her snatch attempts, lifting 80-kilos. In the clean and jerk, feeling a little dizzy in her first attempt lifting 101 kilograms, she only went up by one kilogram in her second attempt and finished by lifting 105.

“It’s my best total recently, so I can’t really complain,” said Quarton, whose personal bests are 90 and 108 kilograms. “It is a little disappointing, but all and all I had a good time, I’m glad I came and I’m OK with things.”

With the collapse of a pedestrian bridge near a venue, rumours of incomplete construction of the athletes’ residences and even an outbreak of dengue fever before the start of the Games, Quarton had concerns about attending. However, she is content with the living conditions supplied for Team Canada and is also happy to have avoided contact with local arthropods and reptiles thus far in her stay.

“It’s OK, it definitely turned out to be better than everyone expected,” said Quarton. “There are places that aren’t necessarily as pretty and finished as they could be, but the bedrooms are OK. I have a clean bed to sleep in, the bathrooms are functioning, we have a nice common space with a flat screen TV and couches, and a kitchen that we’re not really using because there’s a cafeteria open 24 hours a day with great catered food.

“Outside there’s a lot of broken bricks, the sidewalks aren’t perfect, but as long as you watch where you step, you’re OK.

“Knock on wood, there hasn’t been any snakes or spiders. There’s a lot of moths, but other than moths, it’s been fine.”

While she was considering retiring from competition after competing in India, hoping to go out with a major competition, Quarton has postponed that decision for the time being.

“I think I’m still heading in that direction,” said Quarton. “It’s a hard question at this point because it has only been 36 hours since my competition, but it still feels like the right decision. I had fun and I think this is a good place to finish – it would have been more fun finishing with a medal – so I’m still planning on retiring, it’s just a matter of whether it’s right away, in three months or six months.”

At the end of last month, Quarton finished 20th at the World Weightlifting Championships in Antalya, Turkey, down from 11th-place finish at the worlds the previous year.

Quarton also competed at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, winning silver in the 58-kilogram class. She qualified for the Games team in May at the Canadian Senior Championships in St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, taking first in the 58-kilogram class.

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.

Quarton is joined on the Canadian team in Delhi by Watson Lake cyclist Zach Bell and swimmer Mackenzie Downing from Whitehorse.

Over the past few days, Downing finished eighth in the 50-metre butterfly but failed to reach the finals of the 100-metre butterfly by one spot, coming ninth. Her next event is the 200-metre butterfly.

On Wednesday Bell had a disappointing start to the Games, finishing 15th in the points race (See story on page 80). Bell has three more races over the next week.

“Just being able to participate in something like this is an accomplishment in itself,” said Quarton. “It’s hard to go to a Games for a second time, especially after winning a medal my first time – you have high expectations. That being said, the sport is always evolving and it’s a fast paced world, so to keep up, you have to be in great shape.

“It will definitely be remembered as a highpoint, maybe just not the highpoint of my career.”

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com