Jessica lifts expectations for Commonwealth Games berth

Physiotherapy student and Elite Athlete, Jessica Lai, will represent Australia at the 2015 International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships in Houston, USA, on 20 November.

21 October 2015

One personal best is all that stands between, Jessica Lai, a Physiotherapy student at The University of Notre Dame Australia, and a place in Australia’s women’s weightlifting squad for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The first-year student, and member of Notre Dame’s Elite Athlete Friendly Program, is one of only two Australians selected to compete in the 63kg category at the 2015 International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships in Houston, USA, on 20 November.

Judged across two disciplines – snatch, and clean and jerk – Jessica is looking to achieve a lifting score or weight of 192kg. This would not only grant Australia an additional place in the women’s 63kg category at the 2016 Olympic Games, but also place Jessica well for selection in the national team.

Remarkably, Jessica’s progress has come from only two years of dedicated weightlifting training. Since qualifying for Commonwealth trials in 2014, Jessica says she is excited about her future in the sport.

“I’m excited looking at where I’ll be in two to three years’ time as I don’t believe I have fulfilled my potential. Qualifying for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will be challenging, but my sights are firmly set on the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018,” Jessica said.

“Because I’m still relatively new to the sport, I would like to improve my strength as I can sometimes be hindered by not being able to lift the weight or receive approval from the judges on my technique with a heavier weight.”

With eight training sessions scheduled each week, Jessica says her ability to be organised has established a good balance between study and a professional sporting career. The future physiotherapist said Notre Dame’s ongoing support has made her pursuit of these goals more attainable.

“The support I have received from the University’s School of Physiotherapy and Student Services Office has been nothing but outstanding. Notre Dame was willing to examine more than just my academic credentials when choosing a study destination,” Jessica said.

Professor Peter Hamer, Dean of the School of Physiotherapy, recognised Jessica’s hard work and dedication in her achievements thus far.

“It is always great to help students achieve whatever goals they set and Jessica has certainly shown how seemingly quite different goals can be achieved, although both goals are achieved through planning, time management, a heap of dedication and hard work,” Professor Hamer said.

As Notre Dame is a direct entry university, you can still apply for 2016.Visit

Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093;