17 July 2023 Apia Samoa. Iuniarra Sipaia and Lesila Fiapule have dominated the women’s 87+kg division at the 2023 Commonwealth Championships being held this week in Delhi India.
Iuniarra Sipaia has won the gold medal, while Lesila Fiapule took out the silver. The pair had achieved exactly the same a year ago when they dominated the heavyweight division at the Saipan Pacific Mini Games.
Iuniarra Sipaia was one of three lifters who had qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, however, Covid-19 restrictions led to the withdrawal of Samoa’s lifting team.
Having just turned 30 last month, the veteran entered the weightlifting world in 2011 and represented Samoa as an 18 year old in the 75kg category, winning bronze for the Pacific Games, the Oceania and the Arafura Games.
By 2013 Sipaia had won gold at the Pacific Mini Games and in 2016, took out the gold medal at the Oceania Games in Suva and the Commonwealth Championships in Penang.
Sipaia switched to the 87kg division in 2017 and in the same year, won silver at the Commonwealth Championships held in Australia’s Gold Coast.
Lesila Fiapule has been lifting since she was 15 years old, and represented Samoa in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Argentina.
Now just 22 years old, Fiapule has worked her way through bronze and silver medals until the 2022 Pacific Mini Games where she won she won a gold and two silvers behind Sipaia in the 87+ kg division.
Also during last night’s Commonwealth Championships action, Sanele Mao registered an impressive total to win gold in the men’s 109+kg division.
Samoa’s medal tally now stands at 4 gold and 1 silver medal with just 6 lifters competing at the 2023 Commonwealth Championships.
One of Samoa’s lifters, Maeu Nanai Livi was forced out of competition when he suffered a back injury while competing in the men’s 96kg last week.
“He was leading after the snatch, but unfortunately a serious back injury prevented him from finishing the Clean and Jerk,” said Tuaopepe. “Very unlucky.”
Long serving President and Coach of Samoa Weightlifting Federation, Tuaopepe Asiata Jerry Wallwork acknowledged the Government of Samoa, SASNOC, and the Australian High Commission Office in Samoa
“Thank you for the support and for making this trip to India possible.”
The Officer of the Order of Samoa awardee Tuaopepe Asiata also acknowledged and thanked the tapuaiga of the nation as his lifters compete on the international stage.
“Faafetai tele mo lau tapuaiga Samoa. O upu a le atunuu o faiva e tapuaia e faapena ona ae manuia.”