2009 Pacific Mini Games – Rarotonga, Cook Islands – September 28th -October 1st
The Cook Islands , six years ago, were given the rights to host the 2009 Pacific Mini Games. 15 sports were selected including weightlifting.
Our sport enjoys great popularity amongst the Pacific Island nations. And these Pacific Mini Games were no exception. Even though we did not have all the countries of the region in weightlifting take part, we still had 15 nations taking part and we were only second to athletics in country participation.
Unfortunately this year PNG was not present, and also due to financial constraints quite a lot of island countries had small teams. Nevertheless the quality of lifting was still outstanding for the region.
In the women, Ele Opologe of Samoa was in superb form. She snatched a Commonwealth record with 125kg in the 75+kg category and totaled 275kg.
In the men, Yukio Peter of Nauru was also in great form. He narrowly missed 160kg snatch and also narrowly missed the jerk in his 200kg attempt. Yukio could have finished up with a 360kg total. He was only two and half kilos over the 77kg mark.
Itte Detenamo, also of Nauru, in the super heavyweight category, lifted well. He snatched 176kg and clean & jerked 210kg. He narrowly missed 220kg on his third attempt.
Even though the Cook Islands is a small country with a population in the vicinity of 15,000 people – they did an outstanding job with the organization of the event. The facilities were magnificent for weightlifting. The warm-up area had 4m x 4m platforms which I have never seen anywhere else. Congratulations must go to Tony Hole the OWF 1st Vice President, the newly appointed President of the Cook Islands Weightlifting Federation, Mr. Sam Pera, the Organising Committee of the Weightlifting event and also the Pacific Games Council for the outstanding success of the Games.
The three days of competition were fully televised.
But sadly tragedy struck the Pacific region on the first day of weightlifting. At approximately 7.00am in the morning, an 8.1 magnitude earthquake struck many countries of the Pacific – the hardest hit being Samoa , American Samoa and Tonga . We in the Cook Islands also felt the earth quake and of course with such a severe earthquake everyone was expecting some disaster to occur. And unfortunately within 15 minutes of the earthquake, the islands of Samoa , American Samoa and Tonga were hit by reported 10 metre waves, taking so far almost 200 lives, with sadly many more people missing.
Quite a few lifters from the islands which were devastated by the Tsunami, sadly lost family members.
In the Cook Islands , one hour prior to the competition commencing the island was put on high alert and people were evacuated to higher ground. A tsunami wave did hit the Cook islands but we were extremely lucky that the waves were small.
During the day when we realized the catastrophe which had struck, Samoa , American Samoa and Tonga, we decided on behalf of the IWF to hold a one minute silence for the victims who had perished.