The Samoa Weightlifting Federation secured five medals at the 2022 Oceania Junior Championships held online over the weekend including two gold, two silver and a bronze.
Faustina Opeloge of the famous Opeloge family of lifters, won gold for the women’s 87kg division.
Faustina, just 17 years old, is the daughter of Samoa’s Commonwealth Games gold medalist champion lifter, Tupuola Niusila Opeloge and his wife, Florence Siemsen Opeloge.
Faustina’s aunty, her father’s sister, is none other than Ele Opeloge. Tupuola and Ele Opeloge became the first brother and sister to both win gold at a Commonwealth Games, held in India in 2010. Ele is also Samoa’s first Olympic Games silver medallist.
Speaking to Samoa Global News Tupuola Niusila says his daughter Faustina started weightlifting in an open fale infront of their home at Vaoala, and also joined the weightlifting grassroots development programme when it was launched by the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture in collaboration with the Samoa Weightlifting Federation (SWF) several years ago.
This is Faustina’s final year of high school, attending Year 13 at Leififi College as a Commerce student. Tupuola said his daughter competed in inter-college competitions from year 9 to year 12, and has consistently won the best female lifter throughout.
“She also received the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture Best Female Weightlifter of the year awards last year, at the 2021 MESC sports awards,” explains a proud Tupuola Niusila Opeloge, “And now she’s an elite athlete for Samoa Weightlifting Federation representing Samoa.”
Faustina is the eldest of Tupuola and Florence’s five children and her father says she an inspiration to her three younger sisters and younger brother.
The 2022 Oceania Junior Championship was Faustina’s first international competition. Tupuola says this will be a good build-up to the upcoming Pacific Mini Games, where Faustina has been selected by SWF President and Head Coach Tuaopepe Asiata Jerry Wallwork as part of Team Samoa.
In addition to Faustina, there are four other Opeloge family members currently in training under the guidance of Tuaopepe Jeremy Wallwork at the Samoa Weightlifting Federation High Performance Centre at Tuanaimato.
“They are all Faustina’s cousins – sons and daughters of my brothers and sisters,” Tupuola tells SGN.
Also at the 2022 Oceania Junior Championships John Tafi smashed the Oceania Junior record for the men’s 73kg division. He snatched 133kg, and lifted 165kg in the jerk to total 298kg and set the new Oceania Junior record, a record he had also set at last year’s event.
SWF secured two Oceania Junior Championship silver medals through Imoasina Pelanato and Avatu Opeloge. After just six months of lifting, Tovio Ah Chong won a bronze medal in the 81kg men’s division.