Nauru dominated the Oceania Powerlifting Championship in Niue last week, winning 61 medals in total and setting an unofficial world record in the process.
The team finished at the top ahead of Niue, Tonga and Solomon Islands on the medal tally.
They were amongst those that set 85 new Oceania Powerlifting records, including one unofficial world record.
Championship Director Tony Edwards said Nauru were fired up at the event.
“Nauru was quite keen and eager to get their lifters out to Oceania, or international arena, to break records,” Edwards told RNZ Pacific.
Nauruan powerlifter Jezza Uepa, who was crowned as the World’s Strongest Man following an incredible effort at the World Powerlifting Championship in Sweden there years ago, was one of the stars of the Niue meet.
He was one of the record breakers and also broke the world record in the Masters 1 category.
“I am really proud to name Jezza Uepa as the unofficial world record breaker. He totalled over 900 kilograms as a total with his lifting during the last three days…really awesome to watch,” Edwards said.
“He came to break the Oceania records and he did that very well.”
The record will remain unofficial until Uepa is able to compete in another grading event that would then make his mark official.
Nauru won 55 gold and 6 silver medals, Niue 10 gold and six silver, Tonga five gold and one silver and the Solomon Islands three gold and two silver.
Edwards said the event was also historic as it was the first for the newly formed Niue Powerlifting Association.
He said the records broken during the meet was a “huge” number.
He said it showed teams were prepared and wanted to get into action after not being able to ccompete due to the Covid-19 lockdown in the last two years.
“After the pandemic, there has not been any competition. So definitely teams were eager and ready to come and compete.”
“There was about 85 Oceania records broken in the last three days. In terms of record breaking in the Oceania championships, it is big and for us as hosts in Niue. We we are happy that an achievement such as this was accomplished.”
Edwards was also proud of the Niue team that claimed 10 gold and six silver medals at the event.
The team included 14-year-old Hipa Tuhipa, who won two gold medals.
“We came in with a small team with some young lifters and also older lifters. Our youngest lifter was 14 years old and our oldest was 73 years old,” he said.
“That highlights the work that we have done with our new federation, which has just come on board in the last three years.”
Niue Powerlifting, he said, has taken the approach of promoting the sport for healthy living.
Edwards said powerlifting was open to the community to come and enjoy.
“We would like to put that out to anyone in Niue that powerlifting is for everyone and not just for those who want to focus on powerlifting [only] as a sport.”
Niue’s Masters 1 category lifter Sidney Lui claimed one gold and one silver and Masters 2 competitor Carol Edwards claimed two golds.
Another young lifter claimed two silvers.
Lui said the competition was an eye-opener for her.
Apart from preparing herself leading up to the event, she also trainer Niue athletes for the event and was also secretary of the association and the competition.
But despite all that she was able to claim two medals in the Masters category.
“It was my first event and am overjoyed with the achievement,” she told RNZ Pacific.
“It was a busy preparation and event because I was wearing different hats, but finishing with a gold and a silver is my personal success story.”
Lui now wants to focus on getting to the Honiara Games later this year.
“One of our experienced lifters won gold in her category [in] 84 kilogram plus. It just goes to show what the sport is about and how we can participate in representing our countries.”
Tonga Powerlifting Federation President Lord Tu’iha’ateiho, 63, an athlete and grandfather, was optimistic of the opportunities.
He believes anyone could do anything and at any age in sport.
“We got five gold [medals]. The reason why I am here is to show the young athletes that there is an opportunity,” Lord Tu’iha’ateiho said.
“I am a 63 year old man. I [have] got grandkids and I still participate [and] not only it makes my mind sharper but it makes my body sharper.”
Meanwhile, most regional teams will now turn their focus to the upcoming 2023 Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands in November.