The best lifters from across the region are descending upon Honiara for the Sol2023 Pacific Games weightlifting events, which will take place from Monday 20 November to Friday 24 November at Maranatha Hall.
This year’s competition will include 10 men’s and 10 women’s weight classes, each with separate medals for the snatch, clean and jerk, and overall total.
Female weightlifters to watch
Papua New Guinea’s Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games champion Dika Toua will be among the best lifters in the women’s competition, and one of the favorites at this year’s Games. The three-time Pacific Games champion will also be looking to defend her title this year in Honiara.
Among the strong contingent from Australia who will compete in Honiara, Olympian Kiana Elliott will be back to defend her three gold medals from Samoa 2019 in the 64kg categories (snatch, clean and jerk and overall). She will be joined by Commonwealth champion and junior world record holder Eileen Cikamatana, who switched nationality from Fiji to Australia in 2018.
At the age of 40, Solomon Islands weightlifting icon and Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Jenly Tegu Wini will be expecting huge roars from the home crowd as she looks to farewell the Pacific Games on a high note and, more dramatically, on home soil.
She will be joined by Solomon Islands’ other medal prospects, her niece Shirmara Wini and Lorah Maelosia. The duo had a successful build-up towards the Games, winning a collective total of five gold medals in last month’s Oceania Youth Championships in Samoa. Weightlifting is one of the sports in which home fans will have the highest expectations.
Winning a gold in the junior 87kg event and a bronze in the senior event Commonwealth Championships in India earlier this year, Fijian lifter Leyna-May Domonatani will also be another force to reckon with at Sol2023.
Male weightlifters to watch
Papua New Guinea’s Morea Baru lit up the Samoa 2019 Pacific Games and will be looking to defend his three gold medals in the snatch, clean-and-jerk and overall titles in the 61kg category from four years ago.
Young Northern Mariana Islands weightlifter Joey Colisao continues to raise the bar in weightlifting. The Oceania U23 109kg+ champion also broke his personal bests during the recent Oceania Youth, Junior, and U23 Weightlifting Championships in Samoa.
Samoa’s Don Opeloge went on a record-smashing spree as he claimed three Commonwealth marks on his way to a sensational gold medal in the 102kg division at this year’s Commonwealth Championships. He also lived up to expectations four years ago, winning three gold medals in front of his home supporters.
Fijian weightlifter Taniela Rainibogi, who will be the flag bearer for Team Fiji at Sunday’s Sol2023 Opening Ceremony, is already a star in the sport. Rainibogi defied all odds to win gold in the men’s 109kg division of the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championships in India earlier this year.
Tickets to weightlifting are $30 SBD and can be purchased from the Sol2023 ticket booth at the National Stadium or from Our Telekom in Point Cruz.
Maranatha Hall will also host two other sports during Sol2023 – bodybuilding on 27 November and powerlifting from 28 to 30 November.
By Timothy Inifiri Jnr, Pacific Games News Service