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COFFA Reflects on Attending Two Tokyo Games

Fifty-seven years ago this October 11, Sam COFFA, then 28, stepped onto the stage at Shibuya Public Hall, and lifted for Australia in the men’s 56kg category at the Olympic Games Tokyo 1964.

COFFA, now 85, is back in Tokyo for the Olympic Games serving the sport on the other side of the platform as Technical Delegate for the Weightlifting competition at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

“There is a bit of nostalgia about it,” COFFA said. “At the very beginning of the competition. My mind wandered a little bit. I shut my eyes and thought, ‘my God I was on the other side.’ I was so happy and proud to represent my country [Australia.]” 

Technical Delegates are appointed to ensure competitions are carried out per the rules of the sport. They also assist in managing the competition with organizers. For COFFA, a longtime sport administrator following his athlete career, the role of Technical Delegate was a natural fit.

In the 57 years since he’s competed, COFFA has seen a change in the sport world. At these Games, in his role, COFFA is celebrating a rebirth of sorts, for Weightlifting and the Olympic Movement as a whole.”

“You can see medals being won by countries that have never won medals,” COFFA said. “Things have changed for the better.” 

As far as how Japan has changed since he attend the Games in 1964, COFFA said there was no comparison. Because of health and safety protocols, COFFA and all Olympic participants, are not allowed outside of the safety bubble– something that was not an issue at the first Tokyo Games.

But there have been some constants in his two experiences. 

“The people of Japan are very, very kind,” COFFA said. “The Olympic Games is the Olympic Games.”