Eileen eyes switch

Commonwealth Games 2018 gold medallist Eileen Cikamatana. Picture: FT FILE

COMMONWEALTH Games 2018 gold medallist Eileen Cikamatana is seriously thinking of switching allegiance from Fiji to another country.

This is because the impasse between Weightlifting Fiji (WF) and Levuka Weightlifting Club where Cikamatana is a member, has taken months to resolve.

“I am training here in New Caledonia at the Oceania Weightlifting Institute. I will be staying here until such time as I revaluate my career. I am deciding as to which pathway to take,” Cikamatana said.

“To consider lifting for Fiji at the Olympic Games for me is no longer an option. I cannot qualify in time. I would consider changing countries.

In fact I am looking at this right now.” Cikamatana, 19, who won Fiji’s lone gold medal at the Gold Coast games after lifting 233kg in the women’s 90kg, is calling for answers from those in authority, and Government.

“I have done my share for Fiji. A gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, gold medal at the Asian Indoor Games, gold medal at Oceania Championship, gold medals at Commonwealth Championships, gold medals at Pacific Mini Games, gold medal at the World Youth Games, and silver medal at the World Juniors,” Cikamatana said from New Caledonia yesterday.

“What do I get in return? A suspension for refusing to train with a foreign coach and being denied the opportunity to win the World Juniors this year and the World Seniors this year and consequently missing out on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. What is the Fiji Government doing to me? Have they tried to intervene? I ask the honourable Prime Minister to step in.”

The Taviya Village, Ovalau lass said she was invited to be among guests to meet Her Royal Highness Meghan Windsor, the Duchess of Sussex, when she and her husband Prince Harry visit Fiji next week – October 23 – 25.

“I have had the honour of being invited to attend a function at the British High Commission with regards to the visit of H.R.H. Meghan Windsor, the Duchess of Sussex. I was informed that the theme for this function is ‘women’s empowerment.’ Unfortunately, I am overseas and with much regret I informed the British High Commission that I am unable to attend.

“Women’s empowerment is something that I greatly aspire to, both within my sport and further a field. Sadly Fiji Weightlifting suspended me earlier this year because I refused to train with a foreign coach in Suva.

“If I wish to go back then I have to apologise to them in writing, my apology is to be made public, agree to make myself available for any disciplinary process, and to have a reinstated IOC scholarship, I must agree to have myself relocated to Suva immediately and come under the direction of the head coach.

“What have I done wrong that I must agree to all of this to be reinstated? Do you call this women empowerment? What am I? A commercial product for these five executive members running weight-lifting in Fiji? WF president Atma Maharaj, who lives in Australia, last night said: “It is not possible to make an immediate reply.”

Meanwhile FASANOC chief executive officer Lorraine Mar said: “FASANOC has always and will continue to fully support women’s empowerment and particularly that of athletes and we are saddened by the contents of the email.

“FASANOC’s stance in the current weight-lifting impasse is that while we made every effort to ensure that the athletes involved had the right information to make informed decisions, we were not in a position to interfere in the administration of the national federation and respected the sovereignty of our member as long as it was operating within the confines of its constitution.”

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