September 24, 2017
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Vaivai wins first medal for Fiji, breaks records

Team Fiji Weightlifter Apolonia Vaivai broke two Senior Oceania Records in the Snatch and won a silver medal in the Women's 69kg Group A competition during the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan on Friday night.

Vaivai did a snatch of 102kg in her second attempt and went on to lift 105kg in her third attempt to beat a 17 year record of 100kg set by Australia's Michelle Kettner back in March 2000.

In the clean and jerk, she lifted 116kg to give her a total of 221kg which not only awarded her a silver medal but Fiji's first medal in the Asian Games.

The 26-year-old number one ranked in the Commonwealth was excited about her achievement and said this is only a stepping stone for her to do better in the Mini Games and Commonwealth Games.

"I feel so good right now, I never imagined that I would be here competing in the Asian Games because the lifters who come here are tough and put up a really good challenge," Vaivai said.

"But I managed to get a medal and I feel excited and happy to not only break two records but win Fiji's first medal at our first Asian Indoor Games.”

"This achievement has definitely given me more confidence to keep working hard in the future to become the best I can be.”

"When I got up on that stage to do my snatch, I knew in my head that this is something I wanted and I wanted my name down on the board and I did it.”

"I know I can do more than what I am doing now and setting this record has given me that motivation to continue to work hard,” she said.

With the amount of pressure on her to do well, Vaivai said the one thing that keeps her going is God and the support from those around her.

"God has been the number one motivation in my life and is the one thing that has kept me going all this while.”

"The amount of support I have been getting from my coach, Chris Yee and his family and the weightlifting family is something that amazes me.”

"Everyone has been behind me and that is what drives me to keep doing my best. Coming here was no walk in the park, this is a huge event and I know coming here I wanted to get nothing less than a medal,” she added.

Coach Joe Vueti said he was proud of Vaivai's achievements despite getting a silver medal.

He said with Weightlifting being a very technical sport, no matter how much training or competitions Vaivai has been through, everything comes down to that one moment when she steps up on that podium.

"As a coach, I am happy, for her to win a silver medal and to win it at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games is something huge," Vueti said.

"This is the first medal for Fiji and we are very proud of Apolonia's achievements but overall we are very satisfied and all the team mates are happy.”

"She got a lot of support throughout the competition, not just from our Team Fiji supporters but those from other countries as well which was good to see.”

"There was obviously some technical mistakes in the clean and jerk but then again that is the way the game is and missing out on the gold, I mean even myself I looked at it as a very easy gold for Apolonia.”

"But weightlifting is a very technical sport, once you miss an attempt you cannot afford to miss another, especially when the pressure is on. We missed two crucial lifts in the clean and jerk and that is what cost us the gold but we are still proud of her.”

"Apolonia will use this as a stepping stone and by the next games in Vanuatu she should be breaking more records,” he concluded.

By Reginald Chandar


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