The 2022 Maccabiah Games will debut a women’s weightlifting competition – on July 18 and 19 in Jerusalem – and Australia will be proudly represented in it by a rising star in the sport, Layla Bloom.
“Previously at Maccabiah, there have only ever been men competing in weightlifting – and that was back in the 80s – so it’s very exciting, and I feel honoured to be able to be a part of this special moment,” Bloom told The AJN on Monday.
“I’ve competed in open women’s tournaments before, so I’m used to that now, and I’m looking forward to doing the best I can for Australia.
“And as I don’t attend a Jewish school, and the only time I’ve been in Israel was when I was 10, I’m also really looking forward to meeting Jewish people my age from all over the world at the Games.”
The 16-year-old Maccabi Victoria Junior Sportswoman of the Year just returned last week from Mexico, where she represented Australia in the 64kg body weight division at the Weightlifting World Youth Championships.
She came 14th overall, and 10th in the clean and jerk (CJ), setting a Victorian junior, youth, and U23 women’s CJ record of 94kg in the process.
“That was my first overseas-based tournament; it was such an inspiring opportunity and honour to represent Australia, and I’m grateful to all the coaches and people who helped me prepare.”
With a childhood background in gymnastics, Bloom started doing CrossFit to become stronger, and when she turned 13, she got her first taste of weightlifting “when I picked up my first barbell, and really enjoyed it from the start”.
Encouraged by a specialist weightlifting coach who noticed her potential, Bloom has risen quickly through the junior and youth rankings, is a disciplined trainer, and is passionate about her sport and the thrill of improving each time.
“It was a really easy transition from gymnastics for me, because a lot of the positioning and movements can be applied to weightlifting,” Bloom said.
“Although when I first started, I had no idea that it was so technical, and I love the challenge of refining my technique to lift more efficiently.
“And I really enjoy setting goals and getting stronger.”