The Samoan weightlifting team were back in heavy training on Friday after returning from the IWF World Championships held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan on Wednesday.
Samoa Weightlifting Federation president and coach Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork was ecstatic with the teams’ results.
Iuniarra Sipaia and Koliata Petelo both set new Commonwealth and Oceania records during the tournament, the first of six qualifiers for the 2020 Olympics.
“Off this tournament, we’ve got four solid positions, comfortable leads going into the next ones,” said Tuaopepe.
The new six-qualifier system has been brought in to help stamp out doping in the sport.
“I think if you removed all the doping Samoa would be winning gold medals at the Olympic Games.
“Our goal now is to win gold there, it can be done but it requires a lot of hard work and financial support.”
The trip to Ashgabat was funded through the Government of Samoa and the Samoan Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (S.A.S.N.O.C.).
Tuaopepe appreciates the support, but thinks weightlifting deserves more funding.
“It should be performance based, we can’t afford to spread it out among everything in such a small country,” he said.
“Identify one or two or three sports we are good at and put all our backing behind them, to win that medal and put us on the world map.
“We’ve established a great culture in weightlifting over the past 30 years, and it’s only getting better.”
The lifters get Christmas Day and New Year’s off, but otherwise train right through to the next tournament.
“It’s a very tough, rigid programme but this is the reason why weightlifting is the number-one-performing sport in Samoa,” said Tuaopepe.
“We normally kick off at 4:30 in the morning until 7, then at 12 for an hour, then starting again at 5:30 till 8.
“That’s Monday to Saturday, sometimes Sunday as well.”
The next big tournament is the IWF World Cup in China next February, before the Pacific Games are hosted in Samoa in July.
“It’s very exciting to compete in front of our country at the Pacific Games for the first time since 2007,” said Tuaopepe
“Weightlifting always plays a big part for Samoa in the medal tally.”