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Weightlifter Sanele Mao counting down to full recovery

Commonwealth Games gold medalist weightlifter Sanele Mao can't wait to get back into training once he recovers from a minor knee injury.

Mao, 33 will be out for another week, and he said the break has been frustrating with the Pacific Games coming up in July.

“I’m focused on winning a gold medal in Samoa, representing Samoa.

“I’m so happy in the training, and focused for the Games."

Sanele said the injury aside, he is feeling strong, as he has been training full time six days a week with three sessions each day.

“Training, go home, eat, sleep, wake up, go training," said Mao of his schedule leading up to July. 

The Pacific Games weightlifting tournament is also going to be the Oceania and Commonwealth Championships, as well as an Olympic qualification event.

This means the competition will be even tougher, with another few hundred lifters coming to Samoa on top of the Pacific Games athletes, including 52 from India alone.

Mao said over a year on from his 2018 Commonwealth Games triumph, he wants to back up that gold medal performance and continue his momentum towards the ultimate goal - the 2020 Olympics in Japan.

“It was close with India and England [at the Commonwealth Games] , I had to fight so I know I’ll have to fight again at the Pacific Games."

But Mao said he embraces that challenge, and is proud to be a part of his country's rich sporting history.

“Weightlifting is the number-one performing sport for Samoa."

He said the toughest part of training is missing his wife and children, who live in Australia.

“My family, I thank them for their support, many other people like coach [Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork] as well."

Sanele Mao will likely be a part of the seven-strong team that head to Darwin at the end of April to represent Samoa at the Arafura Games from the 26th to the 29th.

That competition is also an Olympic qualifying event, and S.W.A. Samoa Weightlifting Elite Squad coach Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork said a team of seven is all they can afford, so they will take the best of the best.

“At the Arafura Games, we are hoping to try and qualify five lifters for the Olympic Games next year."

He said the tournament would be important as part of their overall campaign towards the Pacific Games in July.

“We need these high-level tournaments so our team is pushed to the max."

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