Articles: Young Marshallese Weightlifters Bring Home Gold, Silver and Bronze

Contributed by YokweOnline on Jun 22, 2012 - 05:55 PM

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Marshall Islands’ Weightlifting Team returned home proudly last week, bringing home three medals for RMI from the Oceania Championship and Continental Olympic qualifier June 4-9 in Apia, Samoa. In the Youth (16 and under) women’s 58kg competition, Mathlynn Jacob-Sasser (15) took gold, besting favorites Australia and Fiji.  Her efforts were strong enough to earn bronze in the Junior (20 and under) competition as well. 

Lomina Tibon (17) took silver in the Junior women’s 53kg, second only to Fiji.  Amon Shiro (18) narrowly missed a medal finish, ranking fourth in the Junior men’s 56kg weight class.  Peter Enoch (14) also lifted strong in his first international competition.

“We are growing the sport of weightlifting from the ground up by placing special emphasis on youth and junior programs,” said Marshall Islands Weightlifting Federation (MIWLF) Secretary General Mack Capelle.  MIWLF held its first national championship during this year’s RMI National Games.

“A major key to MIWLF’s recent success is strategic use of Olympic Solidarity funding,” said MIWLF President Tony Muller.  “We worked closely with the Marshall Islands National Olympic Committee (MINOC) to access an Olympic Solidarity Continental Coaching grant for a long-term coach to come to RMI in preparation for our participation in the 2012 Oceania Championships in Samoa.  But the investment in these resources is ineffective without intense commitment from the athletes themselves to put in extensive time both here and abroad.”

As a result MIWLF was able to bring an experienced USA Weightlifting coach to the Marshall Islands for the five weeks leading up to the Championships.  Coach Clay Reed, Certified USA Weightlifting Club Coach and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), not only worked twice a day with the Championship team, but also spent time coaching some of the newer lifters, identifying lifting talent among young students and holding clinics for MIWLF’s existing coaches.

“It takes character to make it through what is required for the lifters to obtain their goals,” said Coach Reed, “They had to push through the grueling 5:30 a.m. training sessions, complete a full day of school classes, attend a 3-4 hour afternoon training session, as well as complete chores and homework.  Their success was also due in great part to the dedicated coaching they received well before my arrival to Marshall Islands.”

“MIWLF has come a long way.  USA Weightlifting Coach Clay Reed strengthened both lifters and coaches and we expect to have him return in the near future,” stated MINOC Secretary General Terry Sasser.   “Coach Reed was a great ambassador for USA Weightlifting and I personally gained valuable insight as a coach for the Laura Weightlifting Club.”

“We will further invest in our communities and our youth who need opportunities,” stated MIWLF President Tony Muller.  “Opening Laura Gym has proved what a year’s commitment can accomplish.  MIWLF will be opening a gym in Ajeltake this summer.”

The Oceania Championships proved Marshall Islands’ youth and junior lifters are now competitive at a regional level.  As they grow older and stronger, Marshall Islands’ senior team will get stronger.  MIWLF has set a goal of at least two medals in the senior division next year at the 2013 Pacific Mini Games in Wallis and Futuna, and four medals in the youth/junior divisions in next year’s Oceania Championships.

MINOC’s National Federations, especially Athletics and Swimming, have taken advantage of long-term training opportunities through Olympic Solidarity training programs.  There are currently four runners training at Oceania Athletics Association’s High Performance Training Center in Gold Coast, Australia.  Following the Oceania Championships later this month in Cairns, two of those athletes, Haley Nemra and Timi Garstang, will then travel to Manchester, United Kingdom, to participate in a Pre-Games Training Camp at Edge Hill University leading up to the Olympic Games.  Olympic swimmers Giordan Harris and Ann-Marie Hepler have spent the whole summer competing at the Oceania Championships in New Caledonia and paticipating in pre-Games training at Liverpool Aquatics Center in the Northwest Territory.

- Marshall Islands Sport and Environment Program, June 21, 2012 

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