15 Aug 2016

Sport: Pacific lifters on the up

1:37 pm on 15 August 2016

Pacific lifters believe they are closing the gap on the world's best.

Papua New Guinea's Morea Baru finished sixth in the men's 62kg division at the Rio Olympics, with Samoa's Nevo Ioane close behind in eighth.

Papua New Guinea's Morea Baru.

Papua New Guinea's Morea Baru. Photo: AFP

Samoa coach Jerry Wallwork said those results were a positive signal but there is still room for growth.

"Nevo Ioane he lifted very well. For Samoa it's the first ever male lifter making the top ten with an Olympic Games, actually making the top eight. I think his performance was fantastic, I was very happy, and it's something we can build on now for the next Olympics," he said.

Samoa's Mary Opeloge at the Rio Olympics.

Samoa's Mary Opeloge at the Rio Olympics. Photo: AFP

Samoa's Commonwealth Games silver medallist Mary Opeloge could only manage 11th in the women's 75kg division.

The 24 year old lifted 218kg in Rio, 25kg less than her second placed effort in Glasgow two years ago.

Jerry Wallwork said unfortunately she wasn't 100 percent.

"She had a knee injury and we just couldn't foot it (with the other lifters). If she was doing her lifts that she did in Glasgow (or) even better she would have been ranked right up there with the top five, top six but she had this serious injury on her knee and we might have to operate straight after when we get back from the Olympic Games."

He says Pacific lifters reaching the top eight at an Olympic Games is a massive achievement and the gap with the rest of the world is getting smaller.

"We in the Pacific and Oceania are starting to get closer and closer and it's just a matter of time now before we win a medal...and it's great for the Oceania region, for the Pacific, to have two lifters ranking in the top eight, top six."

Jerry Wallwork believes Samoa's lifters will continue to improve as they turn their focus to the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and 2020 Tokyo Olympics.