Opinion

EDITORIAL:Weightlifting, An Emerging Sporting Power In The Pacific

Weightlifting continues to make the mark and break new barriers in the region. Previously regarded as a minor, it is fast-becoming a top sport. Fiji is now enjoying the success
10 Dec 2017 14:09
EDITORIAL:Weightlifting, An Emerging Sporting Power In The Pacific
Team Fiji Weightlifters pose with their medals at the Games Village in Port Vila.

Weightlifting continues to make the mark and break new barriers in the region.

Previously regarded as a minor, it is fast-becoming a top sport.

Fiji is now enjoying the success gained from the sport like never before.

While current lifters like Eileen Cikamatana, Manueli Tulo and Apolonia Vaivai are in the spotlight for their gold medal performances at the Pacific Mini Games in Vanuatu, credit must go to those who set the pace from the start.

The two prominent personalities who come to mind are Paul Coffa and Marcus Stephens.

Coffa has been involved in weightlifting for more than 50 years as a lifter, coach and administrator. He is the general secretary of both the Oceania Weightlifting Federation and the Commonwealth Weightlifting Federation.

He trains Pacific lifters at the Oceania Weightlifting Institute in Noumea, New Caledonia and has been the brain behind the power of the emergence of champions in the region.

Coffa said: “We have world class lifters like Cikamatana. We have the size, strength and physique in the region to compete with the best in the world.”

Stephens is the only Pacific athlete who is a multiple gold medalist in the Commonwealth Games. For years, the former president of Nauru, carried the name of the Pacific Islanders all over the world while competing in the sport of weightlifting.

He competed at the the Summer Olympics and Commonwealth Games between 1990 and 2002, winning seven Commonwealth gold medals.

Stephens said: “Weightlifting has a big future in the Pacific. We have the physique and I hope with the lifters we have now they will set a benchmark for the future. Our lifters have the potential to win medals on the world stage.”

The challenge is now on our Pacific lifters to carry on the tradition set by Coffa  and Stephens.

While our duo have competed and triumphed on the world stage, they have yet to win a medal at the Olympic Games.

Our very Cikamatana has set her target on the Commonwealth Games in April next year and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

This was after she defied the odds winning three gold medals breaking Commonwealth Games record in the 90kg category in Port Vila.

Taking three gold medals in her first Pacific Mini Games is a massive reward for all the training and commitment training for two years in New Caledonia under Coffa.

Cikamatana said: “My dream is to reach the Commonwealth Games next year in Gold Coast, Australia, and from there I want to compete at the World Championship for Juniors and Seniors, and then 2020 Olympics.”

Bold target indeed but it can be achieved with commitment, dedication and importantly under able care and support of Coffa and Stephens who have been there, done it.

Feedback:  oseab@fijisun.com.fj

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