7 Dec 2015

Sport: Pacific weightlifters focused on Oceania Champs

1:17 pm on 7 December 2015

Pacific weightlifters remain upbeat despite falling just short of Olympic qualification at last month's World Championships.

The region had 15 lifters from 11 countries competing in Houston, where the likes of Russia, China, and North Korea dominated proceedings, but many did not make the trip, including the entire Samoan team.

Papua New Guinea's Dika Toua finished in 20th place in the women's 55kg division and was just 5kg shy of earning her country a qualifying spot in Rio.

The General Secretary of the Oceania Weightlifting Federation, Paul Coffa, says the World Championships is near-impossible scenario for Pacific lifters so they focus on other events.

"As a team you cannot qualify at the World Championships - there is no chance - because you have to have a full eight man team. If you have one man, like PNG did, what chance do you have? Or Nauru, or Kiribati or New Zealand - they only had one representation - so we cannot qualify as a team. Individually you could qualify but last time we only had two - Itte Detenamo and Manuel Minginfel. This year we had a chance with three but they failed on the last lift and we missed out".

The Oceania Championships is Suva is, for us, the World Championships because we're sending a full team. If we had a full team [in Houston] Papua New Guinea they would have qualified - they've got enough lifters to qualify but you must remember the cost factor because in weightlifting you qualify as a team, you're scoring points as a team and you get lifters to the Olympics as a team. Individually very few qualify, very very few".

Paul Coffa says all Pacific nations will send their strongest teams to the Oceania Championships.

The top five men's and four women's team from the event in Suva will each qualify one lifter for Rio.

Papua New Guinea's Dika Toua wins weightlifting gold at the Pacific Games.

Dika Toua was the Pacific's best performer at the Weightlifting World Champs. Photo: Justin Tkatchenko