Four RMI Athletes, 16 Medals!

2013 Oceania Championship held last week in Brisbane, Australia, was not just the celebration of our special RMI athletes who returned with nine gold and seven silver medals; it was also the culmination of twice-a-day workouts, six days a week, a committed coaching staff, the ongoing support of Marshall Islands National Olympic Committee (MINOC) President Kenneth Kramer and the executive board, the Laura Gym facility provided by Ministry of Education, and the families of each lifter who arranged their schedules to accommodate the long hours of training and fully supported their children’s efforts.

“Commitment is something each of us had to learn as we trained together and became a team,” said Peter Enoch.  “Our team motto, written on the wall of Laura Gym, is ‘no pain, no gain.’ After not medaling at last year’s Oceania Championships, I decided I was going to give everything I have to win this year for my team and for RMI.”  Peter certainly achieved this by winning four medals (three gold and one silver) at this event.

“There were times during our training when the power went off, but we still lifted using flashlights,candles and the headlights of the car shining into the gym,” said Mattie Jacob-Sasser of her team’s commitment. “We are very proud that team RMI did great representing our country at the Oceania Championships.”

There were three championships taking place simultaneously (the Oceania Championship, the SouthPacific Championship and the Australia National Championship), with 17 countries participating, 246 lifters competing in 22 sessions over 4 days, thousands of spectators at the Chandler Complex and viewers from 68 countries watching the live webcast. The Australian Weightlifting Federation and the Queensland Weightlifting Association efficiently organized what could have logistically been a very challenging event at the world-class Chandler Sports Complex under the oversight of Oceania Weightlifting Federation.

In past years, countries regularly on the podium have been PNG, Fiji, Australia and New Zealand.  This year, day one and the morning of day two of the championship found Marshall Islands dominating the podium, and many competitors, coaches and officials commented that RMI is now a force to be reckoned with in Oceania.

The first RMI lifter to compete was Marine Burns lifting in the 48 KG category.  Her total combined lift of 101 KG (223 LB) was second only to Fiji and won over lifters from Australia and PNG for the silver medals in the junior (age 20 and under) and senior (open) categories of both the Oceania Championships and South Pacific Championships. Her four silver medals were an incredible start, not only for RMI’s first competitor of the event, but also for Marine’s first international competition.

Later that afternoon, Lomina Tibon competed in the 53 KG competition. Gold medals in the junior competition for both the Oceania and SouthPacific Championships and silver in the senior South Pacific Championships (for a total of three medals) resulted from her 130 KG (287 LB) combined total over Australia, New Zealand and PNG. 

In the evening, Peter Enoch took the stage in the 62 KG category. His 212 KG (467 LB) combined total made him Oceania Champion in the youth (16 and under) age category and also earned silver in the Oceania junior competition.  His lifts also captured gold in both the youth and junior categories of the South Pacific Championships.

The next morning, Mattie Jacob-Sasser prepared to defend her 2012 Oceania Youth Championship 58 KG title.   Her 147 KG (324 LB) total not only securedthe youth title in the Oceania Championship and South Pacific Championship but also won the junior competition in both championships, as well as the silver in the South Pacific Championships Senior category.  Mattie’s medal total reached five, with four gold and one silver.

MIWLF President Tony Muller said, “RMI’s high medal count (16 total) reflects the fact that each lifter medaled in his or her own age category as well as the next older age category, against lifters who are, in some cases, 5-10 years their senior with years ofexperience. This level of performance is only possible due to the dedication and commitment of our athletes and coaches. Our athletes’ achievement in Oceania positions them to start competing on the world platform.”

A new challenge RMI’s athletes faced at this tournament was waiting. In weightlifting, the athletes lifting the least amount of weight lift first. Because RMI lifters are competitive with the best in Oceania, their lifts are heavy and they must wait until later in the session to begin lifting.

Coach Mack Capelle said, “Terry and I had to strategize much differently than in previous competitions. We had to know when to start the lifters warming up; starting too early would waste their energy for the competition. We had to closely observe the other lifters, with whom our athletes would be competing for medals, to see how much they would increase the weight of their lifts so we could counter. But the challenge of strategizing our athletes’ lifts against the best in our region is a great problem to have!”

In 2012, the Marshall Islands weightlifting team managed one gold, one silver and one bronze medal. MIWLF and its coaches challenged the weightlifting team that, if they wanted to be the best, they had to work harder than anyone else. 

“We can’t rest on this year’s success,” said Marine Burns.  “Our coaches gave us only one day off from training in Brisbane. They woke us up early and told us we needed to practice before we started our day watching the other lifters compete. Except for a couple lifters, RMI was the onlyteam practicing after our competition.”

Coach Terry Sasser said, “There is no season for weightlifting, it’s a year-round sport. As soon as you stop training, you start getting weaker and your competition keeps getting stronger. Weightlifting is definitely a sport which requires a time commitment, but as this year’s results show, it is worth the effort.”


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