Australian women lead weightlifting gold rush

Australia’s women enjoyed a golden day at weightlifting on Wednesday, claiming top honours in the 59kg and 64kg categories through Erika Yamasaki and Kiana Elliott respectively.

Papua New Guinea’s Morea Baru also made headlines in the men’s 61kg, setting new Oceania and Commonwealth records.

The day’s first event at Gym 1 Faleata was the women’s 59kg where Yamasaki, Australia’s flag bearer, claimed her country’s first gold medals of the Games. She topped the podium in the snatch, clean and jerk and overall. Jenly Wini of the Solomon Islands collected all three silvers, while Australia’s Seen Lee won the trio of bronze.

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Australian flag bearer Erika Yamasaki won her country's first gold medal at the Games (Credit: Pacific Games News Service)

The competition also doubled as the Commonwealth senior and junior championships. In the senior event India’s Kaur Davinder won gold, Johanni Taljaard of South Africa claimed silver, and Yamasaki’s lifts earned her bronze.

In the Oceania junior championships, Samoa’s Sekolastika Isaia won gold, Bernada Uepa of Nauru claimed silver, and New Zealand’s Stella Hampton collected bronze.

In the Commonwealth junior championships India’s Sukarna Adak claimed gold, Isaia’s lifts earned her silver, and Uepa collected bronze.

In the women’s 64kg, Elliott lifted 99kg in the snatch and 114kg in the clean and jerk to claim all three medals. Her Australian teammate Sarah Cochrane edged silver in the snatch and overall plus bronze in the clean and jerk, lifting 1kg more overall than New Zealand’s Megan Signal, who collected silver in the clean and jerk, and bronze in the snatch and overall.

The event doubled as the Commonwealth senior championships, in which India’s Halder Raki won gold, Elliott’s lifts earned her silver, and Cochrane claimed bronze.

“I had an absolutely phenomenal snatch day, that’s a huge lift for me and I’m really, really happy about that,” Elliott said. “Unfortunately the clean and jerk just wasn’t quite there for me today, but I still ended up on a huge personal best total so I can’t really ask for much more, and it’ll just give me a lot of motivation to go back and train really hard to try and get to Tokyo (2020 Olympic Games).”

Pacific Games and Oceania bronze medalist Signal said: “I can’t be disappointed. It was a personal record lift in each of the lifts, plus a personal record total for me. Obviously I could always go better than bronze, but I walk away very proud of my efforts today.”

In the Oceania junior championships section of the event, Nauru’s Nancy Abouke won gold, Australia’s Tori Gallegos claimed silver and Fijii’s Audrey Johns got bronze.

The competition also doubled as the Commonwealth junior championships. In those standings, India’s 197 Nirupama Seram claimed gold, with Abouke and Gallegos collecting silver and bronze respectively.

Wednesday’s other medal event was the men’s 61kg, in which Papua New Guinea’s Morea Baru claimed all three gold medals and lifted a new Oceania and Commonwealth record of 284kg across the snatch and the clean and jerk.

Cester Ramohaka of the Solomon Islands got silver, and Samoa’s John Tafi collected bronze.

The competition also doubled as the Commonwealth junior championships. In those standings, India’s Vaniatiuanga Jacob won gold, Tafi claimed silver, and Kiribati’s Tatake Ieete got bronze.

Weightlifting continues from 9am on Thursday at Gym 1 Faleata. Entry is $5.

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