Thursday, June 20, 2024
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Dugu switches from swimming to weightlifting

Young weightlifter Leyna-May Dugu says transitioning from swimming to weightlifting wasn’t easy but she was determined to make it possible.

The 18-year-old who comes from a swimming background broke the family history after scooping a gold medal in the Junior and bronze in the senior category at the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championship in Delhi, India earlier this month.

“I used to do swimming for the last 12 years and we used to do weightlifting as part of our training, I got introduced to coach Henry Elder and then he motivated me to try out weightlifting.”

“It’s two different sports and it was very difficult for me to switch. Swimming is all about water but in weightlifting, we have to do a lot of physical training. It’s about endurance and trying to secure strength and energy was one of the major challenges I encountered.”

“During COVID-19 I decided to take up weightlifting and try out the sport because I had little knowledge of it as we used to train on that during swimming classes.”

The former Mahatma Gandhi Memorial High School student revealed that she never dreamt of participating on the global stage.

“The preparation was not easy. We did lots of training and had three sessions per day. The journey towards the games was simple and easy but it taught us a lot of values and learned a lot about team work.”

“I never thought of making it to the Commonwealth Games. It was never part of the plans. When my name got called in the national team, it was a big surprise for me. I double-checked with the coach and when he told me that I was part of the team I was just shocked and very happy.”

“It was a nice experience and a big eye opener to see what the other athletes bring and the level of competition they give us coming from all over the world.”

Dugu said she draws inspiration from her mother, Portia Duggu, who is a former Fijian peddler and won silver at the 1999 South Pacific Games.

“My family was a huge support system for me. I come from a swimming background but I broke that chain making a switch to weightlifting.”

“When I decided to do weightlifting, they were a bit shocked but they remained my pillars of strength and my mum told me to do what makes me happy.”

“She told me that I have to beat her and make a name for myself so that was like extra motivation for me. She advised me to do my best and don’t lose hope. She said everyone in our family is swimmers and if I have chosen weightlifting, I have to prove to myself why I took up this sport and that’s what I am doing now.”

Dugu, who shares paternal links to Lau, said she is looking forward to representing Fiji at the upcoming Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands.

“I feel that all the hard work that I had put towards the competition paid off. It was a really good experience and just really proud that whatever sacrifices my family and I had made has been worth the achievements.”

“Consistency, trust and the biggest lesson I learned was to believe in myself. I was nervous and afraid at first to perform on a big stage. I had a mental block as well but the coach kept motivating me.”

“Coach always tells us that this is not it. We have a long way to go and I’m really excited and eager to feature for Fiji at other weightlifting events that are going to happen. I want to train on my strength and power to lift more weight while preparing for the Games later this year.”

Romeka Romena
Romeka Romena
Journalist |


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