Toua collects gold in Aust champs

PNG’s Dika Toua is definitely a force to be reckoned with as she picked up gold on Friday at the Australian Open Weightlifting Championships.

The snatch category proved to be quite a challenge for the 35-year-old Hanuabada athlete as her 74kg lift was counted as “no lift” after three failed attempts at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra. Under the 59kg category, Wini Jenly from the Solomon Islands lifted 80kg, while Australia’s Erika Yamasaki had 72kg under her belt in the 55kg division, followed by both Toua and SI’s Mary Lifu with 70kg each.

In the clean and jerk category, the 35-year-old came back with much stronger conviction, giving her all to reach a total of 95kg. Added to the 70 points from the snatch category, Toua’s total of 165kg saw her grab gold.

Australia’s Yamasaki also topped the 55kg division with 165 kilograms while Wini from SI took out gold in the 59kg division.

The rules of the International Weightlifting Federation to qualify for the Olympics is to compete at six international events in an 18-month time from the Olympics. Toua now has one more event to go, and that is the Oceania Championships in Nauru on April 21 to 26.

She previously competed at the Egats Cup in Thailand and also the Arafura Games in Australia. In the second six months, she competed at the Pacific Games and the Oceania Championships in Samoa and the World Championships in Thailand in the month of September. 

The veteran lifter will make Olympic history again if she qualifies to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in July this year.

The first time she entered the record books was at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 where she became the first female weightlifter to lift at the Olympics when women’s weightlifting competition was contested for the first time at the Olympic Games.

The PNG Olympic Committee says Toua is now on the verge of another historical sporting moment for Team PNG as she pursues her fifth appearance at the Olympics. She will become the first female weightlifter in the world to compete at the Olympics five times.   

“It is very overwhelming for me, to be the first female weightlifter on the Olympic platform and now going to the Olympics for the fifth time is something I want to do, so I am working hard towards it and staying positive and really looking forward to it,” she said. 

Toua has been highly competitive in her last four Olympic appearance finishing 10th place in Sydney 2000 in the 48kg division, 6th in Athens in 2004, 8th in Beijing in 2008 and 12th place in London in the 53kg division. While her main focus now is to qualify, Toua remains confident in her experience and is also not ruling out the chance of an Olympic medal. 

Meantime, PNG’s Morea Baru has also won gold in the men's 61kg weightlifting competition on Friday.

(Dika Toua effortlessly lifting 85kg in the clean and jerk)

Carmella Gware