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A ten-year journey

Pravin Narain
Thursday, February 15, 2018

THIS year marks a decade of Manueli Tulo's dominance in representing Fiji in weight-lifting.

He recently finished eighth in the World Championships in Anaheim, USA, and has been undefeated in the Pacific and the Oceania.

He started in the sport in 2008.

Tulo knows there are obstacles in his path to winning a medal, but he has turned his challenges into positivity and is working round-the-clock to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April.

He is determined and focused. He is hungry for a gold medal and his appetite will only be met with success at the Gold Coast Games.

Tulo, 27, came from a humble beginning.

He is from Baba Settlement near Levuka Town in Ovalau.

Weight-lifting has taken him around the world. The most memorable was the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

"It has been 10 years since I joined weight-lifting," Tulo said. "I have not been to any Commonwealth Games and I am fortunate to be selected to represent Fiji this year.

"It is going to be a big challenge for me."

Fiji did not take part in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games in India and was invited to take part at only a very short notice in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

"There are a lot of people behind the scenes who had been my pillar of strength. I appreciate what people are doing in terms of support, motivation and financial help. They are doing their part and it is my responsibility that the job is done right."

Tulo was educated at Levuka Public School.

He said Weightlifting Fiji vice-president, Christopher Yee was among those who motivated him.

"He has been supporting me since 2008. He drove me to take up the bigger challenges in life and was influential in sending me to the Oceania Weightlifting Institute in Noumea, New Caledonia. He looked after us just like were a re his family members. He is one of the key people who has been helping me behind the scene. People look at us competing on the stage, but they do not know who are the people who are helping us to lift higher in life.

"Weightlifting Fiji also built a training facility in my village and it is a walking distance from my house. It helps my interest grow stronger and stronger. We used to have a small gym in our village and Joe Vueti is one of the successful weight-lifters from the village. He became a coach and is helping other weight-lifters like me to reach our dreams.

"There were some tough moments in my life when I had to leave my family behind in the village and go for training, even overseas. It is my wife Maria Liku and my two children, who sacrificed a lot.

"My children know that I will be competing at the Commonwealth Games and they have allowed me to come to training camps and they are very understanding.

"I had never been focused this much before in my life and I will do my best for the nation. I am ranked fifth in the Commonwealth, but all of us are close to one another, so it is a matter of a few kilograms."

Tulo made his international debut at the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games, in Pune, where he won the gold medal, and Liku who is now his wife, won a silver medal.

Tulo competed in his first regional competition in the 2010 Oceania Championship in Suva. He competed in front of his father who travelled from Levuka to watch him compete.

"It makes me strong when I think of my father, my family, my community and my country, every time I compete and when my name is called out on the platform and the awards stages during competitions.

"I will push myself to the extreme to bring glory to Fiji, to Weightlifting Fiji, my village and my family.

"I want to repay the sacrifices that my children and wife are making to allow me to move to Suva to focus on my preparations.

"The only way I can thank the Weightlifting Fiji, FASANOC and Fiji Government for their tremendous support over the years is with a good performance at Gold Coast.

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