How Anneke Spies Is Pushing Women’s Weightlifting Forward

by | Jan 30, 2024 | Profile

Anneke Spies, champion weightlifter, got her start with CrossFit and is already on her way to greatness. Here’s how she’s pushing the sport forward.

Like many weightlifters, Anneke Spies was introduced to the sport when she joined a CrossFit gym. Initially, she took on weightlifting training to just improve that aspect of her CrossFit game – but it captivated her, and her coach saw that she was cottoning on to the intricacies of the sport really quickly. Soon, she was entering competitions where she fared well. She only completed her first international competition in 2021 and just last year, she competed at the Commonwealth Games, earning herself a bronze medal and a record for weightlifting in her category. And did we mention she weighs only 59 kilograms?

READ MORE: Exactly How To Start Your Weightlifting Journey

New Day, New Lifts

At first, Anneke was intimidated by the idea of competing with so many people watching. Plus, the pressure mounted on an athlete can mess with performance. “I was so afraid because you’re alone on a stage and you’re lifting heavy weights in front of people staring at you. It’s very intimidating,” she says. What Anneke did?

“One lady told me, ‘You’re doing this every day of your life. Today is just another day of doing it’,” she says. “I walked away like going, ‘Oh, man. I enjoyed this.’” She scored a platform title from that lift and also a new South African record title.

Pushing The Sport Forward

Right now, Anneke Spies is one of the only girls in the squad competing internationally. It gets lonely and she’d love to see the new generations coming through. “We’re the only ones lifting in South Africa and we want to create awareness of it,” says Anneke. “We’re hoping to inspire people to try the sport; you don’t want to walk away and it does nothing.” Still, with every competition, she wants to be the person who did the best she could with what she had. “I want to walk away from the sport one day knowing I gave it my all even though it’s not the best in the world, I just want to know [that] I went there, I gave it my all, I’m satisfied,” she says.

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Eat Well

Every athlete eats differently, depending on their sport. And what Anneke has found works for her is to beef up her healthy intake of carbs. She loads up on couscous, brown rice, sweet potatoes and oats. “I’m happy to eat the same thing every day, day in, day out, because I’m more of a person that knows my body needs it,” she says. Still, she has to watch what she eats, since weightlifters compete in weight classes. The structured way of eating works well for her. “I know the amount of food I have to eat every day because then I’m fuelling my body and then I can recover and go tomorrow and I can go do it again,” she says.

Training Up

Aside from weightlifting, Anneke loves CrossFit and endurance training. “I still do CrossFit workouts. I enjoy endurance training, running, rowing, biking, that type of thing. So I’ll still do that just I find it helps me mentally,” she says. “If the weight feels heavy today, you’re not going to enjoy it a lot, but you can get on a bike and you could just pedal for 40 minutes and you sweat and you feel better and then you go on with your day.”

READ MORE: WH Exclusive: Janine van Wyk Reflects On Her Brilliant Career

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