Editorial comment – Powerful statement

Golden girl Eileen Cikamatana and her coach at the 2019 IWF Grand Prix in Lima, Peru. Picture: SUPPLIED/AWF

In August this year, we marvelled at her power and confidence.

We were left wondering about the future, and what it had in store for a youngster who had slipped through our hands.

There was amazement at the stack of weights on the bar, and how young Eileen Cikamatana easily lifted them.

Cikamatana etched her name in the history books, breaking 46 weightlifting records including three world records during the Australian National and Junior Weightlifting Championships in Sydney this year!

The Commonwealth Games gold medallist was immediately ranked the number one junior weightlifter in her category in the world by 50 kilograms.

“Now I can tell myself that all the hard work in training is paying off,” Cikamatana told the Daily Telegraph at the time.

Now, move that achievement aside for a minute.

The youngster was back on the international stage with a bang recently!

She attracted attention on the final day of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Grand Prix in Lima, Peru early this month.

She topped the women’s 87kg division, the final contest of the silver qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

What stood out was how she did it.

Cikamatana not only won gold in the snatch and total, she beat the 2018 world champion from China, and set a junior world record in the clean and jerk with a lift of 151kg.

According to the IWF, it was the first world record, senior or junior, achieved by an athlete from Oceania since Nicu Vlad — then lifting for Australia and among the audience in Lima — way back in 1993, and it predicted there would surely be more to come.

Sadly, though, it stated on its website, there was no chance of Cikamatana competing in Tokyo next year because of what happened in the 19 months between her gold medal triumph at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast and the three-day competition in Peru.

Cikamatana, it said, missed the first year of qualifying and is unable to compete for two different countries in such a short time period.

When she won in the Gold Coast, Cikamatana was competing for Fiji and on course to become our first Olympic weightlifting medal contender at Tokyo 2020.

Now, for Australia, she must wait until Paris 2024.

Cikamatana won Fiji’s only gold medal in the Gold Coast after lifting 233kg in the women’s 90kg division.

She lifted 103kg in the snatch and 130kg in the clean and jerk — both in one attempt with two lifts to spare.

She holds three Commonwealth records in her weight class.

The young lifter hit the headlines last year in the wake of the arrival of Fiji’s new Iranian coach Hossein Tavakoli.

It is particularly sad to lose a credible prospect.

We realise there are processes and systems that must be followed.

But here was a local champion destined for greatness.

She spent years honing her skills and perfecting technique and building strength.

We also realise such champions are rare.

Moving forward, we can only hope we have learnt from this rather unfortunate episode.

The next question now is what has happened to the rest of the top quality weightlifters from Levuka?

Congratulations are in order for Eileen Cikamatana and we continue to look forward with optimism.

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