Vaipava Nevo Ioane has won Samoa’s first gold medal at the Commonwealth Championships in Delhi India.
Vaipava placed first in the 67kg category ahead of India’s Markio Tario who secured the silver and Titus Ika of Nauru who won bronze.
President and Coach of the Samoa Weightlifting Federation Tuaopepe Asiata Jerry Wallwork responding to questions from Samoa Global News from India, commended the efforts by the veteran Samoan lifter.
“This is a good start for the whole team,” said Tuaopepe. “Nevo has set the tone for the campaign and his efforts will encourage the next group to step up..”
“There is a feeling of excitement here now and I’m really happy we have secured this first gold for Ssmoa here in Dehli..”
“O le tatalo ia mau mai pea lau tapuaiga Samoa, ao alo faiva fanau mo faa’agatama tetele o loo feagai ai nei.”
Tuaopepe thanked families and friends and Samoa for their genuine support as they compete at this year’s Commonwealth Championships which is also an Olympic qualifier for the Paris games.
Nevo Ioane, now 35, started collecting medals for his country over 16 years ago when he won gold at the 2007 South Pacific Games.
At the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, Vaipava won a sliver medal for Samoa behind 19 year old Lalrinnunga Jeremy of India and ahead of Edidiong Umoafia of Nigeria, also 19 at the time.
His long list of achievements includes a bronze medal at the 2014 Commomwealth Games, gold at the Oceania Championship in 2012, a gold medal in the Oceania in 2013, bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2014, gold in the 2015 Pacific Games, a gold medal in the Olympic Qualifications, gold at the Oceania 2017, a silver medal medal in the Arafura Games earlier this year.
In 2019 Vaipava won 5 gold medals in total for Oceania competitions including the Pacific Games, Oceania and Commonwealth Championships.
He represented Samoa at the 2016 summer Olympics and had also qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, however, due to Covid-19 Samoa did not compete.
Congratulations Vaipava. Malo le faaeaea atunuu. Faamanuia Le Atua.
Samoa’s weightlifting Team of 7 for the Commonwealth Championships in India, July 2023
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 has competed successfully 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.