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Raising the bar

Tuesday 20 September 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Other Sports, Sports

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Raising the bar
Tehei Napa and Martin Stetka are looking forward to the 2022 Cook Islands Games. 22090708

An overwhelming number of 94 weightlifters have registered to participate in the upcoming Cook Islands Games which starts in two weeks.

However, it is expected that some athletes will drop out due to injuries and with some having registered in several other sports codes and may drop weightlifting.

Martin Stetka, the Cook Islands Weightlifting Federation executive board member and team manager of the national team, said: “So, we are looking at maybe 80 to 85 lifters which is about the same as the first Cook Islands Games competition two years ago.”

This time around the weightlifting competition will be held at the National Auditorium – a bigger and better venue and a better competition platform, with bigger warm up area and lots of space for the audience.

Stetka said many of the lifters who took part in the last games in 2020 have stuck with the sport and “have progressed exceptionally so we’re expecting and looking at it to be definitely a higher quality of competition in regards of the athletes and their results”.

An Olympic weightlifting competition consists of two different lifts. One is called the “Snatch” – this is pretty much when the lifter takes the barbell from the floor to an overhead position in a single motion, an explosive and athletic movement. The “Clean and Jerk” lift starts with the barbell on the floor and sees the lifter take it overhead in two separate motions – cleaning it to the shoulders, pausing, and then jerking (or thrusting) it overhead to a full lockout.

People may think weightlifting looks like its about the strength of the hands, but actually the most important part is the strength of the legs, says Stetka.

“Legs can generate the most power on the body, so you are trying to use the legs as much as you can and pretty much lift the bar from the bar to overhead in a straight line … the objective is to get the bar from the ground overhead in a certain way,” Stetka explains.

Briseis Crighton is ready to lift for Team Pukapuka in this year’s Cook Islands Games. PC: BCI/CREATORS HYPE/22091901

Some athletes who have joined weightlifting took it up as their main sport and others as a complementary training for a main sport.

“It develops explosive power and usually it tends to be sprinters because they need the quick burst of energy of power,” Stetka said.

“Any serious athlete considers weightlifting in their training because of the development of explosive power.”

The upcoming Cook Islands Games will see a high-quality weightlifting competition and will serve as the national championship where the Federation will be considering the results as a possible qualifier for the 2023 Pacific Games.

“Overall, as a Federation we are at the stage where we are really trying to grow the sport in the country. We are trying to generate real high quality in weightlifting, that people will want to take on weightlifting as a main sport and a career.”

The current national weightlifting team comprises Manine Lynch who competed at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, and at the Pacific Games with Jerome Tura,

A young prospect who just turned 15 is the amazing Briseis Crighton. She’s ready to lift for Team Pukapuka on Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 October at the National Auditorium.

Lifter Tehei Napa is representing Team Mangaia in weightlifting for the first time in the Games.

“I’m nervous and excited, I’m lifting for my grandfather - Ngametua Vaineritua’s island, he absolutely loves his island Mangaia, but it’s kinda weird because he hates weightlifting,” said Napa.

She admits that she used to hate weights and hated the barbell.

“But now it’s quite exciting having all that power and I watch a lot of (weightlifting) videos, it’s quite cool.”

Napa encourage girls to have a go at the sport and has committed to training for the competition.

The 2022 Cook Islands Games Weightlifting Island leaders and managers are: Aitutaki - Marianna Pere, Dani Adendorff; Atiu - Helina Glassie, Teariki Puni; Mauke - Jerome Namikaze Tura; Mangaiia - Jamie Gotty, Geoffrey Thor; Mitiaro - Lavinia Tama; Manihiki - Maiti Samson, Manine Lynch; Rakahanga - Yogi Williams; Pukapuka - Wanaka Crighton; Rarotonga - Vikki Henderson.

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