World Champion: Cremorne local Saga Wessman swings for Australia to win gold at 2019 International Kettlebell Competition!
By ANNA USHER.
Ever been at the gym and wondered what those funny looking weights, with the handle on top are?
Let me give you a quick introduction.
Those brightly coloured, cast iron orbs are called kettlebells - and they’re steeped in history. First developed by Russian strongmen in the 1700’s, the kettlebell has surged in popularity over the past few years, said to be a magic bullet that delivers twice the gym results, in half the time.
And there’s a very good reason for that.
Kettlebells are pure evil.
In fact, it’s fair to say that they are the fitness equivalent of a Black Sabbath concert. Or, maybe a double whiskey.
With a tequila chaser.
Also known as Girevoy, kettlebell lifting is a competitive sport where athletes must repeatedly raise a torturous chunk of metal, as many times as possible, over a set period. Said to reduce even the fiercest of challengers to tears, I’m told it requires super-human mental stamina, along with the strength of an Olympic power lifter, if you are to succeed.
Enter, Cremorne local Saga Wessman; a hard-core, dedicated lifter who’s just won gold at the 2019 Kettlebell World Championships in Ireland.
Born in Eastern Europe and now a Personal Trainer in Neutral Bay, the 30-year-old wiped out her competition, hoisting a 16kg kettlebell above her head for a total of 123 reps – in just ten minutes.
What’s even more astounding is the fact that Saga stands at just 5 feet tall and weighs a miniscule 52 kilograms.
“I’ve been lifting since 2012 but I never, ever expected to win in Dublin,” the tiny blonde says, “it really is the most incredible feeling to know that I am the best 16kg lifter in the world.”
Kettlebell athletes use three classic techniques; snatch, long-cycle or jerk – and can only switch hands once in the allocated ten minutes. They also need to come to a complete stop for a repetition to qualify.
“Each rep is worth one point and you are not allowed to put the weight down,” Saga says, “by the time I made 100 reps my quads and glutes were on fire, I could hardly feel my arms – but I just kept going.”
Currently competing in the lightest weight category - 52kg and under – Saga trains more than 12 hours each week and says her next goal is to progress from amateur to professional in the next two years.
“That means that I’ll have to increase the kettlebell weight from 16kg to 24kg, which is a big target for a little person,” she laughs.
“Lifting 16kg more than 120 times on one arm was the hardest thing I’ve done physically, but I’m looking forward to achieving a new goal.
“My friends think I’m crazy, but I really enjoy pushing my body to the limit.”
With the Australian kettlebell community pushing for the sport to become recognised as an Olympic sport, Saga says there is a possibility of heading to the 2020 Tokyo games.
“If we do get approval, obviously I will be training hard to make the Australian team,” she says.
“But for now, I will concentrate on the World Championships which will be held in Serbia later this year.”