Weightlifting duo off to U.S. to prepare for Tokyo 2020

Samoa’s dynamo weightlifting duo Don Opeloge and Nevo Ioane are flying to America at the end of this week for qualifier programs and to prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Samoa Weightlifting Federation Coach, Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork, said their recent success at the Australian championship was good for the team and the country as their training paid off.

However, he said it was not an easy journey for the athletes to reach the pinnacle of their preparations. 

"Firstly, we thank our heavenly father for guiding us and our families and the whole country for prayers and supporting us. It was not an easy journey, we trained for months and all the hard work has paid off,” he said, upon their return from Australia.

But the journey of some of the team members to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is not yet complete with Tuaopepe revealing that they hope that two more weightlifters will qualify and join Opeloge and Ioane. 

"At the moment we have two Olympic qualifiers and and we are hoping to qualify two more after the Oceania competition in Nauru, this will take place in the next six weeks. We are not on break, we will be training ten times harder and our Olympic qualifiers Don Opeloge and Nevo Ioane will be leaving at the end of this week for Ohio, America for qualifiers programs and preparation for Tokyo" he added

The other three weightlifters are preparing for the Oceania championships in Nauru and will be leaving in the next six weeks.

The team’s sole female weightlifter, Iuniarra Sipaia, said she is determined to become an Olympan and will work towards achieving that goal. 

"I have tried to the best of my abilities and I am not planning on stopping there, I have a bigger dream and that is to become an Olympian and I will be pushing my way up to the top and will try my very best at the Nauru Oceania championships,” she reiterated. “If I gain good results from the Oceania (championship) only then my doubts will go away, and my fellow lifters are also performing their best and we are all aiming for that shiny gold medal.”

For Opeloge, he said he is keen to give it his best shot in Tokyo, but families in Samoa and the public will “lighten” his burden by praying for his success.

"I will try my best and that is all I can do but the prayers and support from families and everyone will lighten the weight i'll be lifting. We are aiming for gold and I am determined to gain it. After the Olympic games our team will be conducting several activities to help introduce students to the sports.”

Tuaopepe confirmed the team’s plans to shift their focus to the next generation of Samoan weightlifters after the Tokyo Olympics, saying they have been in contact with the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C.).

“We already established a program for students in colleges in association with M.E.S.C., we hope to develop those with interest in the sport and promote it to the younger generation,” he said. “Twelve schools have already entered the program and the activities have taken place, they will be working hand in hand for training and competitions for the schools soon.”   

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