Pacific’s athletes brace for ANZAC invasion
As predicted in our January 2014 edition, weightlifters proved to be the Pacific’s most successful athletes at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. They accounted for all eight medals won in Glasgow last month. The eight medal haul was one less than the nine medals won in Delhi four years ago, but it was a solid return considering the increased level of competition some sports experienced, particularly in weightlifting.
Competing nations arrived in Scotland obviously well prepared. Despite facing athletes with superior resources and funding behind them, Pacific lifters held their own.Four years ago, Samoa’s golden girl Ele Opeloge was the darling of Delhi. This time, it was hard to go past charismatic lifter David Katoatau as Glasgow’s hero. He won Kiribati’s first ever Commonwealth Games medal, coming from behind to win the gold in the men’s 105kg division. He then capped off his historic performance with a celebratory dance in front of the gaze world’s media.
Katoatau was languishing in fourth place after a 148kg snatch, but he fired back with a 200kg lift in the clean and jerk to finish with a winning overall total of 348kg. “I knew after the snatch I would win the gold medal because I knew I could do it,” a jubilant Katoatau told media afterwards. “I am going to go back and celebrate with all my people back in Kiribati.”
Papua New Guinea was also celebrating double gold in weightlifting, albeit in controversial circumstances. Steve Kari (men’s 94kg) won a photo finish against Australian rival, Simplice Ribouem on his final attempt. “The referee thinks that I touched my elbow on my thigh … [but] they saw [there] was a gap,” he told media. “I was confident it was a good lift, because I felt it myself, it wasn’t a bad lift, it was a good lift.”
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