By Daniel Kerwin, Games News Service
PORT MORESBY, July 5 – Manueli Tulo (FIJ) earned a medal for the third consecutive Pacific Games on Sunday, taking all three golds in the men’s 56kg weightlifting competition at the PNG Power Dome.
His lifts in the snatch (107kg) and clean and jerk (127kg) gave him a comfortable victory with a total tally of 234kg.
Tulo, who previously won overall bronze at the Pacific Games in 2007 and overall gold in 2011, defended his title despite enduring a significant absence from the sport prior to this year’s competition.
“I feel so happy,” Tulo said. “It’s been a while coming back into international competition. I’ve been away from the sport for about two years now, and for me to come and compete here and win three gold medals, defending my title, it’s a really big boost to me.”
Elson Brechtefeld (NRU), the defending overall bronze medallist from 2011, earned the overall silver medal (220kg) and also took home silver in the snatch (100kg) and bronze in the clean and jerk (120kg).
Tulo’s teammate Poama Qaqa (FIJ) earned overall bronze (213kg) to go with bronze in the snatch (92kg) and silver in the clean and jerk (121kg).
“I know how he has been training back in Fiji,” Tulo said of Qaqa. “He came down all the way from 62kg to 56kg, and to win a silver and two bronze, I just can’t say anything about it. He’s just amazing.”
The event was filled with young lifters, with Tulo (25) and Brechtefeld (21) two of only three wrestlers in the field older than 20 years of age.
“I have all the respect for these lifters,” Tulo said. “There were really brilliant young lifters coming into this competition, and they really pushed me to my limit today. They’ll be very good lifters in the future.”
The oldest competitor in the field, 30-year-old Ray Gori Lolo (PNG), finished fifth overall (183kg).
“Being in this sport makes me feel younger,” Lolo said. “Doing fitness is good for my health, making me feel young, stronger and active. I love the sport, I really do.”
Lolo finished narrowly behind teammate Andrew Sire (PNG) for fourth place overall. Sire’s total of 185kg held up when Lolo dropped his final clean and jerk attempt of 111kg.
Douglas Ao Junior Mea (PNG) narrowly edged Larko Doguape (NRU) for sixth place with overall totals of 176kg and 175kg, respectively. David Nickson Biolo (SOL) was eighth with an overall total of 166kg.
Sire and Lolo led the way for Papua New Guinea in an event where six out of the 13 competitors were representing the host nation.
Lolo hopes that he will be leading another strong Papua New Guinea contingent in the next Pacific Games.
“I’m hoping to win a medal next time,” Lolo said. “Any medal will do.”