Editorial comment – Gold it is for Eileen

Eileen Cikamatana competes in the Women’s 87kg category during the 2022 Commonwealth Games Birmingham, England. Picture: AUSTRALIAN WEIGHTLIFTING FEDERATION FACEBOOK PAGE

When former Fiji weightlifter Eileen Cikamatana won that gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, she attracted attention across the world.

It was because of the fact that she became the first woman in the world to win gold medals at the Games for two different countries.

She etched her name on the annals of the Games history with her lifts in the women’s 87kg category. She lifted herself onto the pedestal reserved for the elite in the sport.

She had represented Fiji at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.

The 22-year-old Taviya villager from Ovalau lifted a total of 255kg — a lift of 110kg in the snatch and 145kg in the clean and jerk – to bag the medal.

Cikamatana’s mother, Maria Makitalena made no bones about what the achievement meant to her family.

They were very proud of her achievements.

“When Eileen was selected to represent Australia at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, every one told us she was going to win gold again but we did not want to jump to conclusions,” she said.

“She becomes the first woman in the Commonwealth to win gold for two different countries and we are so proud of her.

“We were emotional because we could not be there to support our daughter but we got updates of her performances through her cousin and Jenny Lee from the Solomon Islands.”

Now her family wants to be in Australia to welcome their daughter when she returns with her gold medals.

Interestingly, while she was breaking records at the Games, her father was driving a tractor trying to safely guide students on a damaged road on Ovalau.

Eileen’s achievement is special. It means a lot for Fijians because she once represented us.

It also proves that we have talent and we are able to nurture skilled and talented athletes right here who can go on to become world champions.

The challenge for us now is to ensure we have processes and strategies to empower our athletes moving forward.

It will also mean our officials and administrators must ensure the welfare of our athletes is paramount and steps are in place to ensure they stay focused and motivated.

Eileen made the switch to Australia following differences with sporting administrators that popped up in her home country.

We may not have all the ideal solutions, but it is important that we are motivated to learn from Eileen’s episode. We join thousands of Fijians who jumped with joy and cheered for her when she won gold.

We also say go Fiji, go, as we look ahead to more of our athletes joining the Games’ competitions.

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