EIGHTEEN weightlifters departed the country yesterday with high hopes of bringing glory to Fiji by winning their respective grades at the Oceania Championships in New Caledonia.
Peni Taqua, Tevita Tawai, Manueli Tulo, Julia Timi, Seruwaia Malani, Arieta Mudunavoce and Apolonia Vaivai are trying to qualify for the Commonwealth Games that would be held later this year in Glasgow while the remaining four boys and five girls are trying to qualify for the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) that would be held in August in China.
Team manager Wallene Vueti said the side had prepared well and was looking forward to positive results at the event.
Malani, who won three gold medals at the Pacific Mini Games in Wallis and Futuna last year, is among the favourites in her category.
"She will face stiff competition from lifters from Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Tahiti and New Caledonia," Vueti said.
"Tulo is another favourite in his category while there are high hopes for Vaivai who is currently training at the Oceania Weightlifting Institute in New Caledonia."
She said the competition was the first international event for some of those teenagers who were trying to qualify for the YOG.
"They are strong weightlifters with a lot of confidence and they are all looking forward to the competition at the Oceania Championships.
"It will be tough since they would be facing lifters from Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific nations for the first time."
Competition starts tomorrow and concludes on Friday.