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Samoan Opeloge snatches Games gold with monster lifts

Wednesday 3 August 2022 | Written by RNZ | Published in Regional, Samoa

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Samoan Opeloge snatches Games gold with monster lifts
Don Opeloge, Commonwealth gold medallist Photo: Coconet

The first gold medal for a Pacific island nation has been lifted at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.

That gold went to Samoa through 23-year-old weightlifter Don Opeloge who smashed the Commonwealth Games record in the Men's 96kg.

Opeloge snatched 171kg and clean and jerked 201kg giving him an aggregate score of 381kg - a massive 33kg ahead of Vikas Thaur of India.

Fijian Taniela Rainibogi picked up bronze in the same event with 343kg.

It's a medal upgrade for the Samoan who did a brief dance after his winning lift having taken silver in the men's 85kg event at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Australia.

It also means he joins his brother Niusila and sister Ele as a champion at the Games.

Niusila Opeloge took gold at Delhi 2010, but had served a two-year doping ban from 2007, while Ele Opeloge claimed victory in the women's over-75kg at the same Games.

All up, Pacific athletes collected three medals in weightlifting within 24 hours with Maximina Uepa picked up a bronze medal for Nauru.

Competing in the 76kg women's division, Uepa lifted a total of 215kg, just 3kg ahead an English lifter.

A day earlier, Nauru's Nancy Abouke finished fifth in the women's 71kg category.

Previously, in the weightlifting, Papua New Guinea's Morea Baru took silver in the men's 61kg, and Samoa's Vaipava Ioane also took silver, in the men's 67kg division.

Eileen Cikamatana claimed the women's under-87kg title for Australia, four years after winning gold for Fiji in the under-90kg.

She moved from Fiji following a governance dispute between two rivalling bodies in the sport.

Elsewhere in Birmingham, Fiji won silver in both men's and women's rugby sevens.