PNG weightlifter Dika Toua looking to set Olympic appearance record

Dika Toua competes in the women's 49kg weightlifting competition during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Photo: VINCENZO PINTO/AFP

A Papua New Guinea athlete is aiming to be the first weightlifter to compete at the Olympic Games six times.

Dika Toua said her best chance of qualifying is through continental representation, as the highest-placed Oceania athlete.

She has already set a benchmark for the sport – as a raw 16-year-old she was the very first woman to lift at the Olympic Games, in Sydney in 2000.

Toua, a 38-year-old mother of two, competed at the 2022 International Weightlifting Federation World Championships in Bogota, Colombia, the first qualifying event for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

She finished 24th in a field of 37 with a total of 165kg.

Her best performances at the Games are sixth in 2004 in Athens, and seventh in 2008 in Beijing – just a year after giving birth to her first child – both times in the 53kg class.

To be eligible for Paris, all athletes must compete in the 2023 World Championships in Saudi Arabia, and the 2024 World Cup in Thailand, as well as three of the five qualifying events.

Toua, who has won one gold and two silvers for PNG in the Commonwealth Games, is also planning to compete at the Pacific Games next year, where she previously won a swag of medals.

Of the five other lifters who have also appeared in five Olympic Games, three, all men, have long retired. But female athletes Alexandra Escobar of Ecuador and Hiromi Miyake both contested the 2020 Olympic Games held last year in Tokyo without success. It is not known if either will attempt to again compete in another Games.