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Vaipava Nevo Ioane wins Aus Open gold, breaks Oceania clean and jerk record

Weightlifter Vaipava Nevo Ioane has won gold at the Australian Open in Canberra, with a total of 286 kg.

Ioane went head-to-head with Kiribati’s Ruben Katoatau in the competition, with just two lifters in the men’s 67 kg and under division.

Katoatau went first in the snatch, making his opening lift of 120 kilograms.

The Samoan went one better with a lift of 121 kg, and Katoatau missed two attempts at 124 kgs that would have given him the lead.

However with the snatch title in hand, Ioane missed both his attempts at 126 kg, which would have given him a shot at setting an Oceania record of 127 kg.

In the clean and jerk, both Katoatau and Ioane made their opening lifts of 155 kg and 161 kg respectively.

Katoatau then matched that 161 kg with his second attempt, before Ioane missed a shot at 165 kg.

Katoatau tried and failed to hit that Oceania record mark, which would have broken Ioane’s clean and jerk benchmark.

The Samoan then made the lift, breaking his own record and sealing gold in the snatch, clean and jerk, and total.

The Australian Open is one of the last chances for athletes to acquire qualification points for the Tokyo Olympics before the window to do so shuts at the end of April.

Ioane is in pole position to be Oceania’s top-ranked lifter in the category through the Olympic qualifying process, and should secure a place at Tokyo 2020 with participation at two further competitions before the end of April.

Four further Samoan weightlifters will compete over the next three days, in the S.W.A. Samoan Weightlifting team’s first event of 2020.

Don Opeloge who, has already locked in Olympic qualification, will compete in the men’s 96 kg category on Saturday at 7 pm Samoan time.

Iuniarra Sipaia (women’s +87 kg) and Sanele Mao (men’s 109 kg) will both lift on Sunday in pursuit of their own Olympic qualification, while Lauititi Lui (men’s +109 kg) will also be lifting on the final day of competition in his first event overseas since the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Sipaia and the +87 kg category are scheduled to lift at 1 pm Samoan time, while Mao and Lui’s categories are both set to compete at 4 pm.

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