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‘Sports before courts’ – Commonwealth Games champ David Liti hoping to inspire other Pacific athletes

Commonwealth Games weightlifting champion David Liti is hoping that his story can serve as an inspiration to others like him, having risen from a child in Tonga to a competitor at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.



Discovered by coach Tina Ball while playing rugby, Liti quickly took to weightlifting like a duck to water, culminating in his gold medal victory in the +105kg class on the Gold Coast last year, setting a record with a final lift of 403kg in the process.

The 22-year-old opened up about his journey from humble beginnings to role model and gold medal winner.

“I was raised up in Tonga, we didn’t really get much opportunities to do what we wanted to do,” Liti began.

“I’m so blessed and thankful for my parents for bringing me over here.”

Kiwi weightlifting Commonwealth champion David Liti breaks 16-year national record:


Liti lifted a record 176kg Snatch to surpass former record holder Nigel Avery.

While Liti has achieved success as a weightlifter – with more possibly on the way in Tokyo next year – the Gold Coast champion says that it was never even a thought that he could achieve such feats.

“Ever since I came to New Zealand, my goal was to be a policeman. I just thought policemen were cool, all this world would be so much better with better policemen, everybody would be policemen.

“Time goes on, and you realise there’s rugby. You try out rugby, you try out soccer and all these other sports, and I think weightlifting. It’ll be the biggest change in my life, unexpected, it just happened all of a sudden. Somehow I’m here.

“There’s a saying I always keep in mind. It’s ‘sports before courts’. I think I would be one of those spending a lot of time in court, instead of out of trouble. I’m glad that I’m here taking the right path, going into sports.”

Liti finished by stating that he’s one day hoping to use the success and profile that weightlifting’s given him to provide a pathway for other Polynesian athletes in a similar situation to himself.

“I want to build an institute, to help more of the Pacific Islanders, to help them realise they can do more in sports than they think they can,” he said.

“A lot of my goals in the future [are] towards building the institute, helping others, helping them achieve their fullest potential.”


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