3 Mar 2011

Samoan weightlifters denied visas for US trip

11:15 am on 3 March 2011

Some of Oceania's top weightlifters have had to cancel their trip to compete at this weekend's 9th Annual Arnold Weightlifting Championship after they were denied visa entry into the United States.

The eight-strong team, which included Delhi Commonwealth Games gold medallists Faavae Faauliuli and Niusila Opelonge and Nauru's Yukio Peter, had been preparing for the trip for two months and were due to leave for for the US tonight.

The President of the Samoa Weightlifting Association, Jerry Wallwork, who was due to travel with the team, says despite letters of support from the Samoan government, the National Olympic Committee and the tournament organisers, the four Samoan lifters were informed this morning their visa applications have been rejected.

"They told me Monday we will have an answer for you so I said ok ok we'll look forward to it because we have to leave. But then came Monday and then again yesterday and only this morning we've just been advised that sorry it's been denied. Apparently it's four weeks or five weeks, a waiting period."

Jerry Wallwork says they weren't given a reason why their application failed.

He says the athletes are very disappointed but they'll continue to train ahead of the Arafua Games and Oceania championships in May.

The remaining athletes in the Pacific Island team will still travel to Ohio.