The sun had just set on the third day of competition at the Pacific Games, but the 64kg women’s weightlifting at Maranatha Hall, Honiara, was just about to shine with green and gold.
“Let’s go Darcy” echoed throughout the hall as Australian Army physical training instructor (PTI) Sergeant Darcy Kay took to the stage to compete in ‘snatch’ and ‘clean and jerk’.
“I’m psyched now,” Sergeant Kay said before getting on stage.
“I was feeling a bit dry and light-headed before making weight, but I’ve come good.”
Sergeant Kay was cheered on by friends from the Australian Army’s 7 Brigade and the Australian Pacific Games team when she took out gold in the snatch, and bronze in the clean and jerk, which was won by teammate and first responder, paramedic Brenna Kean.
“Winning gold is incredible,” Sergeant Kay said.
“Solomon Islands is such a special place to compete with my brothers and sisters from the region, and to show everyone here and at home the hard work we’ve put in with a win. It’s amazing.”
With 24 nations coming together under the Pacific banner, sport’s importance can’t be understated, and Sergeant Kay said it played an important role in her career.
“Growing up in country Victoria, sport was a way of life,” she said.
“At 18 I joined the Army, which enabled me to stay focused on my fitness, but I didn’t start weightlifting until 2018.
“Initially it was difficult, being an elite sportsperson in Defence. But, as I progressed in my career, the Army was very supportive and enabled me to train and succeed at the international level.”
Sergeant Kay is currently the PTI for 8/9 Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, where a normal day includes running her unit’s physical training in the morning, followed by a rehab session.
“I train soldiers in physical and mental fitness, which builds resilience and strength to fight through,” Sergeant Kay said.
“I get a lot of flexibility as a PTI. I can train at work, then at home, with my coach at the gym, which also keeps me moving forward to the next challenge.”
The Pacific Games have unified the region through sport, and as Sergeant Kay looked to the deep blue ocean, her focus shifted to the next crocodile at the boat.
“I’m looking forward to the Oceania Championships in New Zealand next year,” she said.
“And, with some hard work and determination, I’m hoping to be selected for the Commonwealth Games in 2026.”