THE whole of Korovou settlement in Baba, Ovalau stayed awake on Tuesday night to get a glimpse of their star battling at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
And Maria Liku didn't disappoint her fans as she lifted a total of 183kilograms — 82kg in the snatch and 100kg in the clean and jerk — in the women's 63kg event to finish on the eight spot.
Instantly, the 22-year-old became the best-ever ranked Fiji Olympian.
Aunt Maria Mareta said they could not contain the excitement and were looking forward to her return.
She said the family and the community had already started planning for a welcome bash fit for the sensational weightlifter.
"It was around 4.30 in the morning (Wednesday) when Maria (Liku) competed. We stayed awake the whole night because no one in the family wanted to miss her performance," Mareta said.
"It's a big achievement for the family, our community, Levuka and the country as a whole."
Liku has been competing since her primary school days under the guidance of uncle and former national rep Jo Vueti, who is now the national weightlifting coach.
Mareta describes Liku, who is a Fijian of Solomon and Vanuatu descent, as a shy and a disciplined person.
"It's her discipline that has enabled her to achieve this. She never talks back to her coaches and always listens to them."
Team manager Atma Maharaj in a statement said while Liku's total lift was slightly below her best, it was more important that she was placed well.
"Maria has been training in Noumea (under the guidance of legendary Paul Coffa) and Levuka continuously for the best part of the past four years, initially with Manueli Tulo and more recently with the strongest woman in Fiji, Apolonia Vaivai," he said
"The competition between Maria and Apolonia has been great and has been a catalyst for the 15kg improvement that Maria has achieved in the past 12 month. Maria would like to specially thank Apolonia, for being her training partner for the past 12 months."
Liku is placed in the top three in the Commonwealth and Maharaj said with a further improvement by 20kg in the next two years, she was capable of a better placing in 2014.
Meanwhile, Maiya Maneza of Kazakhstan won the gold medal in the event with a massive total of 245kg, which was also a new Olympic record. World Champion, Russian Svetlana Tsarukaeva, who lifted 237kg, got silver while Christine Girard of Canada settled for bronze with a lift of 236kg.
Aunt Mareta believes if Liku stays disciplined and continues getting top class training, she could be a medal prospect for Team Fiji in the 2016 Rio Games in Brazil.
But for now, it's celebration time for the people of Korovou and the Weightlifting Fiji fans.