Golden lift for Faustina Opeloge

Team Samoa secured one more gold medal for the XVI Pacific Games host nation on Thursday night, courtesy of the Opeloge dynasty and the Samoan powerlifting fraternity.

This time, Faustina Niusila Opeloge, won her first gold medal in powerlifting in the women’s 84kg category at the Gym 1 Faleata.

The 14-year-old from Vaoala attends Leififi College and is her first time representing Samoa in the Pacific Games. 

Her cousin is the famous champion weightlifter, Ele Opeloge.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Faustina said weightlifting runs in the family. She dedicated her win to her family, church and her school. 

“No, I didn’t know I was going to win,” she told Samoa Observer. 

“All I ever wanted was to be part of the event, when I came to compete with others I thought I couldn’t do it, but then I realised that I am stronger than I am.”

“I was really confident in one of my lifts, but then I missed because the thing is I dropped the bar a little bit, but I came back again.

“My dad told me to keep running and fighting for the gold medal and I just fought for the gold medal,” Faustina said. 

Another Samoan, Moala Rachael Bob Sooala-Toai, 19, also scooped bronze in the women’s +84kg category. 

She is from Faleallii and Vaivase-tai, and like Faustina, it’s her first lift as well.  

“This is my first bronze medal and I am happy about it,” Moala said.

“It’s a little bit harder especially I am competing in the super heavy category so it’s pretty hard, but I am excited doesn’t matter what medal I got.” 

Head coach, Pepe Christian Fruean, said he is happy with the team’s effort and achievements. 

“Overall, it has been fantastic," he said. "It shows the changing of the flag whereby Matile, who has been the torch bearer, has passed the torch down to Faustina and Moala. 

“It’s a great day for Samoa power lifting’ it’s a great day for women in Samoa. I think it’s very empowering for the women of Samoa, and I am very proud to be a part of that.”

Pepe said he wants to build on the momentum of the game here in Samoa and invest in developing powerlifting for the women of Samoa.  

“The way I see Powerlifting and these games in particular, we are hosting the Games and we a bringing the competition to be a part of Samoa but I don’t want it to end here, we want to use the momentum we’ve created with these young girls, I want to use the momentum created that I believe will be a success in the platform today into further reinvesting in developing powerlifting for the women of Samoa. 

“I think this particular sport has a big future of body type and composition of Samoan competitive physique, very conducive to this type of sport for men and women. 

“I’ve just started to see the potential of young women coming up, and I think in the New Year, I am going to be looking for partners, schools, principals, about bringing the competition to schools for males and females and basically having a school powerlifting competition, the big sports have it, and not everyone will be a star rugby and netball player, but there’s a lot of potential in schools for potential powerlifting champions. 

“Solomon Islands is hosting the next Pacific Games and Samoa wants to take a full complement of women lifters for all categories, and that is a personal goal I have to make sure we have a full complement of athletes who will bring home more medals for us.” 

He explained in the women’s category there are seven weight classes and in the men’s there are eight. 

“So one of the things, clearly if you consider that, means there is a disparity between women, but I understand the International Weightlifting Federation are looking to rectify that and include additional weight class in the women, so we could have a supposed balance between men and women – eight and eight.”

The men’s division takes place today with Samoa represented by Titi Misili Penieli, Tavita Lipine, Koale Junior Tasi Taala, Emau Fuimaono and Oliva Siusega Kirisome. 

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