The Oceania Weightlifting Championships get underway in New Caledonia today with a new generation of young lifters ready to reaffirm their promise ahead of the Commonwealth Games in July.
Five Pacific lifters won gold medals at the Commonwealth Championships in November including Samoa’s Mary Opeloge, the younger sister of Delhi 2010 gold medalists Ele and Niusila Opeloge.
The General Secretary of the Oceania Weightlifting Association, Paul Coffa, believes as many as six lifters are in line to win gold medals in Glasgow, with Papua New Guinea’s stable looking particularly strong.
“One is Steven Kari, 21 year old, the other one is Dika Toua. She won a silver in 2006, she didn’t compete in 2010 – she was married having children – and she’s making a comeback. She’s ranking number one in the 53 [kilogram class]. We have also the 62 kilo class for men that’s really something. That’s possibly the highlight of the Commonwealth Games in weightlifting to have Lapua Lapua from Tuvalu is ranking number one, so is Nevo Ioane from Samoa equal on that and we have the young Morea Baru from Papua New Guinea, so we’ve got medals in there for the Pacific to grab. David Katoatau in the 105 kilos and Tovia Opeloge from Samoa so we’ve got another chance for gold in there so we are really looking well for the Commonwealth, no question on that”.
The Oceania Championships is also a qualifier for the Youth Olympic Games in China.