IPSWICH Weightlifting Club coach Jax Solofa does not chase "great athletes” to be the cornerstone of his gym. First and foremost he wants "a person who is willing to learn” and has a great attitude and application to training.
In 20-year-old Braydan Fender, he found that in spades.
Fender, a newly-crowned Australian Weightlifting Federation junior national champion had his technique fine-tuned by Solofa over five months of working together.
Now Fender is likely to receive a call-up to the Australian team, set to compete in New Caledonia in December.
If he does get the nod, Fender will be joined by Solofa, who also won the AWF Senior +109kg title at the weekend.
"I spoke to him earlier this year about making the transition from crossfit,” Solofa said. "We just had to harness his ability; change his technique a little bit.
"But he's done it pretty much all on his own. I'm pretty proud of him.”
Solofa labelled Fender "a character” - the pair share a secret handshake, as the coach does with all his pupils.
"He's a really good guy, he's become like a big brother to me,” Fender said of Solofa.
"He's a really good role model. He's always smiling, which is a great thing.”
Solofa said his greatest motivation for opening a gym and working with athletes like Fender was "about building better people”.
"If I can support the young people that come through the gym, then I've succeeded,” he said.
Hear from Jax on his AWF National title success soon in QT