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Samoans continue to shine in golden week at weightlifting junior world champs

The Samoa Weightlifting Team’s strong results at the International Weightlifting Federation Junior World Championships in Suva, Fiji continued yesterday with Leotina Petelo’s fifth place finish in the 81kg Women category.

The 17-year-old member of the Samoa Water Authority-sponsored side lifted a total of 199kgs, just seven short of Russian bronze medallist Ekaterina Vizgina.

It was a personal best total for the second youngest member of the team, who has only been in the sport for 18 months. 

National team coach, Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork, said Petelo has improved rapidly in that time.

On Wednesday, Maeu Nanai Livi, 20, came sixth in the 96kg men category with his total lift of 334kg, also a personal best in his first world championship event.

The crowd went wild every time Nanai Livi stepped onto the stage, and the Fijian fans have been right behind their Pacific neighbours all week.

The crowning achievement was on Tuesday, when Don Opeloge, 20, became Samoa’s first ever world champion weightlifter with his win in the 89 kg men division, winning gold for his 198 kg clean and jerk and 349 kg total score.

Earlier on Tuesday, Jack Opeloge, 18, finished 14th in the 81 kg men division. 

Samoa have two competitors still to lift at the Junior World Championships; Lesila Fiapule, 17, and Feagaiga Stowers, 18, who will compete in the +87 kg women category.

That competition will commence at 1pm on Saturday Samoan time.

Stowers is currently ranked third in the world for the category, only behind China’s Wenwen Li (who is not present at the Junior Worlds) and Korea’s Seon Mi Lee, so she stands a strong chance of adding to Samoa’s medal tally for the week.

The competition will be livestreamed at https://www.iwf.net/fiji_live/

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