Fiji weightlifting is currently in intensive preparation for the 2023 Pacific Games in Solomon Islands and the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Fiji Weightlifting President Della Shaw Elder said they wasted no time and continued their preparations just days after the weightlifting competition at the mini-games of the Pacific in June.
She said Fiji weightlifting had great results at the 2022 Pacific Mini Games and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
“While Weightlifting Fiji is pleased with both outings and extremely excited about the prospects for the future, there is still a lot of work to be done and more resources and strategic support are needed to achieve even better results at the 2023 Solomon Pacific Games. and the qualifying events for the 2024 Olympics,” Della said.
Weightlifting Fiji plans to send up to three athletes to the 2022 World Weightlifting Championships in Bogota, Colombia, which will take place from December 5-16, 2022 and will be the first qualifying event for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Weightlifting Fiji has had a strong representation at every Olympics since 1996, when Rupeni Varea became Fiji’s first Olympic weightlifter in Atlanta.
This was followed by Kesa Tawai at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, Ivy Shaw in Athens in 2004, Joe Vueti in Beijing in 2008, Maria Liku and Manueli Tulo in 2012 and Manueli Tulo and Apolonia Vaivai at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Maria Liku’s 5th place finish at the 2012 London Olympics is Fiji’s highest placed individual athlete at any Summer Olympics.
“The road is always tough and there are always challenges, but with better strategic support to help all athlete and coach support systems, weightlifting will certainly have a bigger medal haul and better results in higher level competitions such as the Commonwealth Games, World Championships and the Olympics,” Della said.
Della encourages other athletes who want to try the sport to attend the ‘training days’ and talent identification which will be organized as part of the Fiji National Sports Commission’s sports outreach programs.
“These outreach programs have in the past identified athletes from as far away as Kadavu, Serua and Naitasiri who are among Fiji’s medal winning weightlifting athletes.
“Weightlifting provides an excellent platform for talented athletes to represent Fiji and win medals in Pacific, Commonwealth and World competitions. We are considering a land allocation for this major project.
Meanwhile, Weightlifting Fiji plans to bid and host the 2024 Commonwealth Weightlifting Championships and 2024 Oceania Championships in Suva.
“These championships, in February 2024, will attract approximately 300 athletes from around the world.
“These will also be important qualifying tournaments for the Paris 2024 Olympics,” Della said.
FASANOC will also look closely at International Olympic Committee scholarship recipient Taniela Rainibogi to help Taniela qualify for Paris by providing training and travel support.