Pacific weightlifters tipped to make Rio finals

The General Secretary of the Oceanic Weightlifting Federation says despite outrageous odds, he expects at least two Pacific lifters to make finals at the Rio Olympics.

Paul Coffa says despite the natural talent of the Pacific lifters, they will be facing athletes with more resources and also some who have used performance enhancing drugs in the past, which means their task will be extremely difficult.

There are 15 Oceania representatives competing in Rio and Coffa said they are all in brilliant shape.

"Samoa qualified on their own merit, so did Fiji, so did Australia, New Zealand and Kiribati. The others received the IOC tripartite invitation and so all together we did very well. I think in London we had 15 also so we haven't done bad at all."

Paul Coffa said two lifters in particular should impress in Brazil.

"Mary Opologe from Samoa has got a good chance in the 77kg division - not to win gold but to be right up there with the top five/six lifters in the finals - and so has Morea Baru from Papua New Guinea in the 62kg class. (He) is in great condition and he should do very well also," he said.

"(He) should get in the top six or so, which is not so bad when you consider they're only Pacific lifters and they don't have the same opportunity that Europe gives to their athletes. They're competing constantly over there whilst we are limited due to naturally the cost, which is very very much to compete overseas for Pacific lifters."

"Unless you compete internationally frequently it is very difficult to achieve international performances. You cannot reach international performance within an island with no competition at all, it is very very difficult. Funds has got a lot to do with it and some countries, some Olympic Committees have more funds and more opportunities through sponsorship to assist athletes of the islands but some of the islands are not so lucky and therefore they miss out" he said.

"Although they have the ability to make it, they have the ability to reach the top five/six in the world - which is fantastic - but it's very very hard without international competition to get there."

The weightlifting competition in Rio gets underway this weekend.




Samoa qualified two lifters for Rio at the Oceania Weightlifting Championships. Photo: Facebook / 2016 Oceania Weightlifting Championship