Eileen Cikamatana is undoubtedly the most impressive and exciting weightlifter in Australia right now.
Eileen is Fijian born and started lifting in 2014. Even though her mum forbid her from training weightlifting, her dad allowed her to pursue training at the OT program. And we should thank her dad for that.
Eileen went on to win a gold medal for Fiji at the 2018 Commonwealth Games before gaining Australian citizenship in 2019. She will now lift for the green and gold in all her upcoming events.
Right now she trains under Paul Coffa at the Oceania Weightlifting Institute in New Caledonia. Her relationship with Paul is as strong as any coach-athlete relationship, if not stronger.
“He’s the best coach and he’s like a father figure to me. I’ve been here with him for the past three years, away from home. I have so much respect for him and everything he has done,” Eileen explains to The Weightlifting Platform.
Eileen trains three times a day. It’s exhausting just to think about! We asked her how she finds training so much. “It’s really good,” she replies.
“You get to practice the movement and the tempo every day. You master [your lifts] every time go into training. You’re training to master your lifts and technique, and the more you do it the [more] perfect it gets.”
Eileen has not only mastered her lifts but her mindset as well.
“If you don’t want to train, you will get nowhere. You must have positive vibes every single second. There’s no time to relax, there’s no time to say I don’t want to do it.”
Eileen lives and breathes a positive attitude. It’s one of her most defining features, and she radiates it every time she walks into the gym. She sings, she yells. One of her favourite sayings is “oh, thank you, Paul, I love that exercise”, when Paul programs something that she knows isn’t her best movement. And when Paul tells her to go heavier? “Oh, it must be my birthday!”
“I don’t have goals. My motor is always prepared and whenever Paul presses the button, I’m up for anything.”
“I don’t want to put focus on goals but be prepared for whatever Paul has for me.”
Eileen and Paul have well defined roles, and they’re now so in sync they can go about those roles without stepping on each other’s toes. Eileen understands that Paul is the coach — what he says goes. She understands that he has to make the tough decisions so that she can just focus on lifting the weights.
This is her final year as a Junior and it’s safe to say she made a real impact on world weightlifting in 2019 breaking the Junior World Clean & jerk record with 151kg as an 87kg lifter in early November. Eileen dropped to the 81kg category for her final competition of the year and of her Junior career to break the Junior world record in the snatch, clean & jerk and total.
She lifted 110kg snatch, and just narrowly missed a 119kg snatch which would have been a World Junior Record. She went on to Clean & jerk 150kg which gave her the World Junior Record in the Clean & jerk and Total with 260kg.
Eileen has so much talent but what defines her the most is her attitude and intensity in her training. She’s going to be breaking more World records soon enough but this time as a senior.