8 July 2023 Apia Samoa. Samoa’s 7-strong team of lifters are set to depart for the Commonwealth Senior and Junior Weightlifting Championships to be held in Delhi, India from the 11th – 17th July 2023.
The competition is also an Olympic qualifying event for the 2024 Paris Games and Samoa’s lifters have been camped for months at the Tuanaimato High Performance Unit, putting in the hard work needed to prepare for the international stage.
Three Samoan lifters had qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, however, border closures due to Covid-19 meant that Vaipava Nevo Ioane (67kg), Don Opeloge (96kg) and Iuniarra Sipaia (87+kg) had missed out.
Samoa Weightlifting Federation President and Head Coach Tuaopepe Asiata Jerry Wallwork, says this is not Samoa’s only Olympic qualifying event.
“There are also other competitions later this year that allows Olympic qualification such as the IWF Senior World Championship in August, held in Saudi Arabia, and other international events after that.”
The weightlifting team received a warm send-off from the Samoa Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (SASNOC) where President Pauga Tala Pauga, spoke to encourage the team and convey Samoa’s prayerful tapuaiga before they depart Samoa.
Tuaopepe thanked the SASNOC President, board members and CEO for their ongoing support of the Samoa Weightlifting Federation
Tuaopepe, who was last month honoured for his selfless dedication to sports with an Officer of the Order of Samoa award, tells Samoa Global News the training has been intense in preparation for India.
“We have been training three times a day in camp, with the first session at 4am. After a rest we would start again at 11am until 2pm and then rest again before the evening session from 5 to 8pm,” said Samoa’s gold medal sweeping coach.
Samoa will be looking to continue their on-form performance witnessed at the recent Pacific Elite International held in Australia where Samoa took out every division of the comp.
Team Samoa for India
Two women make up the team of seven. Exciting youngster, Lesila Fiapule will compete in the 87kg category while veteran lifter Iuniarra Sipaia takes on the 87+ kg category.
Iuniarra Sipaia and Lesila Fiapule had both dominated the women’s heavyweight division at the Saipan Pacific Mini Games in June 2022. Sipaia had won 3 gold medals, smashing both the Pacific and Oceania Records for the 87+kg women’s division while Lesila Fiapule won gold in the snatch of the 87+kg women’s division.
Lesila Fiapule, now 20 years old, has been lifting since she was 15 and represented Samoa at the 101Youth Olympic Games in Argentina. In March this year at the Pacific Elite International, Lesila took out gold for the 87 kg category and won the 3rd best overall female lifter.
The Men’s lineup is headlined by Commonwealth Games gold medalist Don Opeloge lifting in the 102kg category for which he holds the Commonwealth record for the Clean n Jerk with a lift of 206kg.
Veteran and Commonwealth Games silver medalist, Vaipava Nevo Ioane will compete in the 67kg category.
Now 21, John Tafi will compete in the 73kg category for which he holds the Oceania Junior record.
Maeu Nanai Livi, who started his lifting career with a gold medal at the 2015 Youth Commonwealth Games will be looking to make his mark in the 96kg category.
Age is just a number for 37 year old veteran Sanele Mao who will compete in the 109kg category.
Samoa’s weightlifters are set to depart on Monday 10 July 2023 and President Tuaopepe Asiata calls on Samoa’s prayers and tapuaiga.
“Please remember our sons and daughters in your prayers, as they journey to represent Samoa on the world stage.”
Tuaopepe also acknowledged and thanked the Government of Samoa as well as their local sponsors for the assistance and support.
July Specials at Taumeasina Island Resort