First Cousins Win Commonwealth Powerlifting Championship Gold Medals and Qualify for 2008 World Powerlifting Championships
“Forever with Rotuma at heart,” first cousins Eliesa Irava and Lorance Visanti kept the island name at high by winning gold medals when representing Fiji at the Commonwealth Powerlifting Championship held in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 6-9 December 2007. Joined by teammates Mili Turner, Maroof Ramzan, and Helen Pahulu, and coached by Mr Jim Clifford of NZ, they made history in the sport of powerlifting. With only 5 lifters (3 males and 2 females), they scooped 19 gold medals, 2 silver medals, 1 bronze medal; set 5 commonwealth records; and earned the Best Overall Junior Woman Lifter, and first runner-up to Best Overall Master II Women's division. This overwhelming result means this minor sport will be ranked with the majority sports such as rugby, soccer, and netball in Fiji, as the duo not only won gold medals but have also qualified for the World Powerlifting Championships 2008 / 2009.
With just over four years in the sport, Lorance Visanti has gone from strength to strength by winning gold medals in the 2004 and 2005 Oceania Championships in Suva, Fiji, as well as local competitions. The year 2007 was one of the best ever in his lifting career. At the age of 21 and still a junior lifter, he qualified in the open category for the South Pacific Games in Samoa 2007 and won a gold medal in the 75kg category, setting a new SPG record. With this fine performance he moved on to the Commonwealth Championship in New Zealand, where he scooped 3 gold medals and 1 bronze, and just missed out on a deadlift record. His squats were 240kg, bench press 122.5kg, and deadlift 240kg, with a best total of 602.5kg. This qualified him for the world Junior Championships to be held in Sandton, South Africa, 1-6 September 2008, and he will go to South Paulo, Brazil, 31 August - 6 September 2009 for his final year in the junior category before moving into the open category.
Evergreen Eliesa Irava also had a great performance at the championships by wining 3 gold medals, 1 silver medal, and 1 Commonwealth bench press record of 210kg in the 100kg category. This performance qualifies him for the World Masters bench press in Bratislava, Slovakia, 16-19 April 2008; the World Masters in Palm Springs, California, 1-4 October 2008; and World Masters Bench press in Taupo, New Zealand, 15-18 April 2009. Now that both cousins have qualified for the World Masters, together with fellow lifters, they will try their very best, with the help of Fiji Powerlifting Federation, the Fiji government, Fasanoc, sponsors, and other fundraisings to see them through to these World meets.
The other “Tahroro powerlifters” who are currently training and could soon hit the world championship arena are Rupeni Fatiaki, Benjamin Fatiaki, Rudolf Fonmoa, Eric Jioje Hanfakaga, and Tausia Moeava. They are still trying to sign up more youths, especially female counterparts, as currently there is no consistent Rotuman female lifter. Previously women lifters Fern Fabiano, Filomena Fabiano, and Fanny Ralifo won medals at the 1997 South Pacific Mini Games in American Samoa, together with Trisa Cheer and Moli Fatiaki, who competed locally but had to leave the sport for other commitments.
Irava and Visanti together with females Turner and Pahulu are the Fiji Powerlifting nominees for the 2007 Fiji Sports Council Sportsman and Sportswoman awards night on 8 Friday February 2008. (Alalum!)
Before setting further goals for 2008, the Fiji Powerlifting team for the Commonwealth Championship would like to take this opportunity to thank the Rotuman community in Christchurch, New Zealand, namely Kiti Palmer, Cathy Palmer Culshaw, Mr Patrick and Sylvia Kamsoo, Aunty Harieta, the Fijian community, coach Mr. Jim Clifford, Mrs Clifford, YHA staff, and the Canterbury Powerlifting Association for their kind and generous assistance, which contributed very much to the team's success and achievements while in New Zealand--also not forgetting the assistance from Fiji government, Fasanoc, FPF, Vodafone Fiji, Mr Susau Vilisoni Finiasi, Eric Jioje, Trisa Cheer, and Hupfeld Hoerder.
We hope they will be successful and wish them the very best for the World Championships and future competitions.