Samoa claims Pacific Islands’ first gold

The Pacific has claimed its first gold medal and it has come through Samoa’s Don Opeloge while Fiji’s Taniela Rainibogi and Nauru’s Maxima have won bronze.

On a day when the Pacific claimed three medals in weightlifting, Opeloge kept up the family tradition by becoming the third sibling to win gold at the Commonwealth Games.

The Samoan weightlifter won gold in Men’s under-96 kilograms category and also broke the Games record.

From the start, Opeloge laid down a statement of intent by cleanly lifting 161 kilograms in his opening round of the snatch to set a new Games record.

He continued to break his own best with efforts at 166kg and 171kg as he looked on course to better the silver medal won at Gold Coast 2018 in the under-85kg.

Samoa’s Don Opeloge wins gold in the 96kg category at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games. Picture – ONOC Facebook

The best was left until last as Opeloge cleared 200kg and 210kg, before failing at 220kg in the clean and jerk, for a total of 381kg, another Games record.

His clearance at 210kg matched the best lift of any Commonwealth lifter at that weight.

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It means he joins his brother Niusila and sister Ele as a champion at the Games.

Niusila Opeloge took gold at Delhi 2010, but did serve a doping ban for two years in 2007, while Ele Opeloge claimed victory in the women’s over-75kg at the same Games.

Nauru’s Maximina Uepa in action, winning a bronze medal in the Women’s 76kg category at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games. Picture – ONOC Facebook

Vikas Thakur of India took the silver medal with a snatch of 155kg and a clean and jerk of 191kg for 346kg, finishing just in front of Fiji’s Taniela Tuisuva Rainibogi, the bronze medalist due to his second score.

Opeloge fell short in the 2018 Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast, where he won silver, for his country.

His accomplishment makes Samoa the first country in Oceania to win gold in the Games.

Maximina Uepa gave Nauru its first medal of the Games in third on 215kg in the women’s under 76kg.

Fiji’s Tanieal Tuisuva Rainibogi with his bronze medal in the Men’s 96kg category at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games. Picture – ONOC Facebook

This brings Samoa’s medal tally to one gold and one silver, while Fiji’s medal tally sits at two silver and one bronze.

Samoa climbs up to the medal tally rankings from their 20th position on day 4 to the 15th position, while Fiji drops from the 17th to the 19th position.

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