Australian weightlifter joins Samoa Games
Australian champion weightlifter Eileen Cikamatana has arrived in Samoa and is set to compete in the Samoa Games 2023 which is currently underway.
She was accompanied by her coach Paul Coffa, who has had a long association with weightlifting in the region as a lifter, coach, and administrator for over 50 years. He said Cikamatana is one of his best lifters and believes that she will put the Pacific at the top if she qualifies for the next Commonwealth and Olympic games.
"I have hope that Cikamtana makes it through the competition and by her side will be Don Opeloge, John Tafi, and the other good weightlifters," Coffa said.
He said he believes in the ability of every weightlifter, just like he has high hopes for Ele Opeloge during her time when she won medals at the Commonwealth and Olympics. Having previously competed for Fiji, Cikamtana participated in the women's 90 kg competition and took first place.
Following her gold medal-winning performance at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Ms. Cikamatana was controversially disqualified from contention for the 2018 Fiji sports awards. She had been selected the sportswoman of the year for Fiji in 2017 but was not included in the 2018 honors. She became the first woman to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games for two separate nations in 2022 when she also won the women's 87 kg event gold medal.
In the wake of a dispute between Weightlifting Fiji and the breakaway group Fiji Weightlifters Association, she committed to representing Australia in February 2019 and was able to return to international competition later that year. However, the circumstances over her transfer of allegiance made Cikamatana ineligible to qualify for the delayed 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Cikamatana is proud to continue to compete against her fellow competitors in the upcoming games. However, not only is she prepared but ready to face all other Pacific competitors from three other overseas countries.
In an interview with the Samoa Weightlifting Federation President, Tuuaopepe Jerry Wallwork, he said every opportunity being taken to share from weightlifter to weightlifter is improving both sides, meaning weightlifters share their experience and have a great opportunity to know one's idea.
"The plans ahead set by the Weightlifting Federation is improving all the competitors. It is also an honor to have one of the youngest gold medalists of the commonwealth," Cikamatana said. "The Samoa Games competition will select those who will be qualified for the Commonwealth Games and we look up to around 12 to 15 competitors to reach at the point."
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