By Alan Baldwin
RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Australian weightlifter Tia-Clair Toomey is unlikely to win a medal at the Rio Olympics but she can claim to be the fittest woman there.
The 23-year-old, who will compete in the 58kg division, finished runner-up last week in the CrossFit Games in Carson, California, with the winner acclaimed as the 'Fittest Female on Earth'.
Given that Icelandic victor Katrin Tanja Davidsdottir will not be competing at the Olympics, that gives Toomey something in the way of bragging rights as she prepares for her first appearance at a Games.
It has also given her an added incentive as she looks to the immediate future and longer term challenges.
"To be the Fittest on Earth would definitely be a dream come true," she told reporters at an Australian team news conference on Monday.
"Much as it was an honour to be back on that (CrossFit) podium again this year and be placed second again, I was truly gutted and devastated with the end result. I really wanted that gold medal.
"I kind of feel, if I look at the positives, that coming into the Olympics it's kind of given me a little more drive and a bit of anger in myself to just lift as much as I can and do the best that I can for my country."
The CrossFit Games, which first started in 2007, involves 15 separate events including 7km runs, ocean swimming, weightlifting, climbing rowing and other tests of physical fitness.
Toomey, who comes from Gladstone in Queensland, said she first took up serious weightlifting in 2013 because she had identified that as a "very big weakness" in her armoury.
"Working on that weakness to improve my CrossFit kind of led to making a goal of getting to the Olympics," she said. "If it wasn't for CrossFit I wouldn't be here today."
Toomey said the California experience had also helped her feel comfortable in front of a large crowd of people and "pulling out a really impressive number on the platform", even if a medal remained a distant dream.
"Realistically, as much as I would love to get on the podium in my weight category, I think probably top 20. But you've got to be in it to win it." (Editing by Peter Rutherford)