Samoa’s medal drought at the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast has finally been broken thanks to Don Opeloge and the Samoa Weightlifting Federation.
The 18-year-old weightlifter won a silver medal at in the 85kg men’s division. But the silver medal could have easily been a gold had he not missed his last attempt at 191kgs.
He competed and showed great heart against more senior and experienced lifters but just came up short for gold.
Opeloge lifted a personal best 151kg in the snatch but missed his final two attempts at 188kg and 191kg in the clean and jerk.
He finished with a total of 331kg at the Carrara Sports Arena, seven kilograms behind Venkat Rahul Ragala from India, who also beat him to gold at last year's Commonwealth Championships.
Opeloge said he wanted to win the gold medal but made a mistake at a key moment.
"I'm happy but I didn't beat (the gold medallist)...I missed my gold," he told Radio New Zealand.
"I think we had it (in the clean and jerk) but my arms press - that's why there's no chance for gold but it's ok. In my last lift just (a) mistake to think about for the future to come to the next competition."
President and Coach of the Samoa Weightlifting Federation, Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork. thought the teenager had done enough with his penultimate lift, which would have been a new personal best in the clean and jerk, but two of the three judges ruled his arm was bent too far.
As for the man himself: he's already looking ahead to the next Commonwealth Games in four years time.
"I'm focused to my future plus I'm still young, to the future I want more training, training hard and be a good lifter in the future."