The just-concluded Commonwealth Games weightlifting competition brought to the fore the rise of tiny Pacific nations, Samoa and Nauru, at the expense of some of the established countries.
The Games also enabled India to win its 100th weightlifting medal and 300th in the Games' history when Chitradurga Padam Raju Sudhir Kumar picked up a bronze medal in the men's 77kg category. Weightlifting has been the single biggest contributor of medals to India after shooting in the history of the Games.
Samoa should thank a single family for the success story. The Polynesian country won its first ever gold medal of the Games, unexpected though, through Faavae Faauliuli in 94kg for men. A day later the nation struck twin gold medals through its super woman Ele Opeloge in the women's above 75kg class and her elder brother Niusila in the 105kg section.
Interestingly, Samoa has won three silver and nine bronze medals so far in Commonwealth Games history. And all these medals came only from boxing and weightlifting.
Samoa had brought a team of five men and as many women out of which Opeloges contributed five, three in the men's and two in the women's section. The 25-year-old Ele is the most celebrated among the five. The current Commonwealth Championship record holder, cheered by brothers Petunu, Tovia and Niusila and sister Mary, ensured that she broke all the Games' records with an awesome display.
“I am very proud and thank everyone for supporting me,'' she said immediately after the win. “Samoa is very proud of weightlifting.'' In a country where rugby is the most popular sport, the Opeloges and a small band of weightlifters were bent upon writing a different script in the country's history.
In Nauru, the most celebrated lifter is Itte Detenamo who competes in the super heavyweight class of above 105kg. The country has a very strong weightlifting history mainly owing to its former lifter, Marcus Stephen, who is now the president of the Republic. Stephen has won seven gold and five silver medals in Commonwealth Games and he ensured the tradition continued.
Unlike Samoa, which sends athletes to compete in boxing and rugby, Nauru solely depends on weightlifting which has brought in all the gold medals. When Yukio Peter won the 77kg gold medal, the only one of the Games, it was the country's 10th gold medal and a momentous occasion.
The failure of Detenamo to win the ‘Strongest Man' title and the gold medal would certainly hurt the nation but the discomfiture would only spur on the 22 square kilometre nation with a population of 13,000 to greater deeds in times to come.
Keywords: Commonwealth Games