23 May 2019

Sport: Fiji-born weightlifter Eileen Cikamatana breaks records in Australia

12:41 pm on 23 May 2019

Fiji-born weightlifter Eileen Cikamatana has made a record-breaking start to her new life in Australia.

Competing in her first interstate tournament for New South Wales since being granted Australian permanent residency, the 19-year-old snatched 118kg and clean and jerked 150kg to obliterate all Australian Junior and Senior records in the 81kg division.

The Commonwealth Games gold medallist also smashed the respective Oceania Senior and Junior records and Commonwealth Senior and Junior records for the snatch, clean and jerk and total, equalled the World Junior record in the snatch and bettered the current mark in the clean and jerk by 5kg and the total by 9kg.

Eileen Cikamatana lifted a world best mark in the 81kg division.

Eileen Cikamatana lifted a world best mark in the 81kg division. Photo: Supplied/Sam Coffa

However, Cikamatana is unable to claim the additional honours because she does not yet have Australian citizenship.

Australian Weightlifting Federation President Sam Coffa said in his almost 65 years involved in the sport he has never witnessed a performance like he did at the weekend.

"It wasn't so much the weight that she lifted, which in itself was just outstanding. It's world class," he said.

"But it's also in the manner in which she sort of attacked it: I reckon she's got another 10kg up her sleeve right now.

"She's just decisive in her movement, very very very strong. She got six out of six lifts - I mean it's the sort of thing you dream about."

Eileen Cikamatana competing for New South Wales at an interstate event in Sydney.

Eileen Cikamatana competing for New South Wales at an interstate event in Sydney. Photo: Supplied/Sam Coffa

Sam Coffa said Cikamatana's performance would rank her number one in the world junior rankings by 51kg and top of the world senior rankings by 18kg.

"Forget about the Australian Junior and Senior records - she just thrashed those by dozens and dozens of kilograms - but I think what is important to know is that right now her snatch, clean and jerk and total rank as number one in the world," said Coffa, who is the brother of Eileen Cikamatana's coach at the Oceania Weightlifting Institute, Paul Coffa.

"She would be a medal winner at the Olympic Games if she was able to compete in Tokyo for sure, I have no doubt of that."

Eileen Cikamatana

Eileen Cikamatana celebrates her gold medal win at the Commonwealth Games Photo: © Copyright Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz Photosport Ltd 2018

Eileen Cikamatana won gold in the women's under 90kg division at last year's Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast but later vowed to never represent Fiji again.

She was part of the Levuka weightlifting community that has split away from Weightlifting Fiji, claiming the national body has mistreated and bullied their athletes.

Sam Coffa acknowledged it had been a difficult 12 months for the teenage prodigy but said she has been welcomed into the Australian weightlifting community and has an extremely bright future in front of her.

"People move and now it's just the world - you move from one country to another and it depends on what you think is best for yourself and your family and so on," he said.

"She just migrated to Australia - that's it. Obviously she's had some problems with the Fijian federation but I don't want to get into that because it's not for me to make any comment on that but she certainly hasn't had the best time since she won the gold medal in 2018.

"And if she wasn't going to Australia she'd be going to New Zealand or she'd be going somewhere else. She chose Australia and we welcome her with open arms and hopefully in the not too distant future she'll be able to represent us."

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