Weightlifting contested at Mini Games, gold medals for Samoa, NZ

The Women’s weightlifting event saw the 69kg and 75kg divisions contested on the second day of the Weightlifting competition at Epauto Hall in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

Samantha Hansen from New Zealand secured the gold medal with a score of 163 points, while Maria Liku from Fiji finished second with 158 points securing the silver and Kiribati’s Tiiau Bakaekiri claimed the bronze.

In the 75kg division, the gold medal was won by a woman with a name familiar to many in the weightlifting fraternity. Apolonia Vaivai won gold with a record 215 points, as Hayley Whiting from New Zealand took the silver with a score of 176 points with the bronze going to Australian lifter Philippa Torea Frances Woonton.

Vaivai competed in the Women’s 75 kg event at the 2014 Commonwealth Games where she won a bronze medal and went on to secure a gold in 2016 at the Oceania Weightlifting Championships in the lighter 69 kg event.

In the Men’s competition, the conclusion of the69kg category saw Samoa secure the gold medal with Kiribati receiving silver and Nauru the bronze.

Samoa’s Ioana Vaipava Nevo lifted a total of 295kg to take that victory. With a 130kg lift in the Snatch competition and then 165kg in the Clean and Jerk, the win was never in doubt.

Katoatau Ruben from Kiribati lifted a total which was more than 20kg less at 273kg to claim the silver medal while the bronze went to Nauru’s Doguape Larko with total of 238kg.

In the 77kg category, Toua Philip Udia from PNG scored 299 points just taking the gold medal over close rival Taretiita Baraniko Tabaroua from Kiribati who finished with a score of 298. Tevita Wanono Tawai from Fiji claimed bronze.

In the heavier category of 85kg, the competition finished with cheers from those in the crowd supporting Samoa when Don Opeloge secured the gold medal.

Opeloge– the latest in the famous weightlifting family to compete at international level – won the overall event with combined total lift of 327kg having finished second in the snatch round but stealing the Clean and Jerk with 180kg lift.

Wallis and Futuna’s Israel Setino Kaikilekofe won the gold medal in the Snatch at a 148kg but finishing second in the Clean and Jerk at 173kg could only secure the silver with a total of 321kg.

Bronze went to Taniela Tuisuva Rainbogi of Fiji with a total score of 303kg.

Jamie Tahu competed for Vanuatu finishing sixth and while he was outclassed for size and experience in this international field, it was a good effort for his first weightlifting competition.