Session Two included the men’s 61kg, 67kg and 73kg classes.
The surprise highlight of this session was a hard-fought battle between two Juniors from Nauru.
Larko Doguape, at 19 years old, dazzled in the 73s by setting a Junior Oceania record in the snatch at 125kg.
But fellow Junior (and fellow countryman) Ezekiel Moses — in fact one year younger than Larko — wasn’t having it and decided to overtake that record on the spot. He crushed 127kg to fly past Larko’s record mere minutes later.
Larko, desperate to be inked in the record books, attempted 128kg to regain his briefly held title, but couldn’t hold the catch as the barbell clipped the back of his head, dragging him forward on the way down (don’t worry! He was OK in the end).
The fight continued into the clean & jerks, as Ezekiel set a new Junior Oceania record with his opener at 153kg. Which was quickly overtaken by Larko on his opener at 155kg. It was like a tennis match — back and forth, back and forth — as Ezekiel claimed the clean & jerk and total record on his second attempt at 158kg.
Can you guess what happened next?
Yes, Larko then retook the Oceania Junior clean & jerk record at 160kg but only managed to equal — not overtake — Ezekiel’s total record. Ezekiel smashed 162kg on his third and final attempt to regain the clean & jerk and total records.
Larko decided not to aim for both the total andclean & jerk records, posting a final attempt of 163kg, which would earn him only the latter. He knew what he could hit, and hit it he did, shooting an excited finger gun at the crowd as he skipped off the platform. In the wash-up, Larko walked away with the Junior clean & jerk record, winning that battle. But Ezekiel won the war, managing to seal snatch and total.
While all this was heating up, another battle was brewing between Kirabati’s Ruben Katoatau and Samoa’s Vaipava Ioane, sole competitors in the 67kg class. Both posted the same entry total of 290kg, so it was tense before anyone even stepped onto the platform.
Curiously, Ruben’s opening attempts combined for 10kg less than his listed total. While Vaipava initially had 290kg on the board, he dropped his opening snatch 4kg to 121kg moments before he was due out on the platform.
Unsurprisingly, Ruben crushed his opening snatch at 120kg, as did Vaipava at 121kg. With scarcely a hair’s breadth to separate them, it was a question of who would break (or breakaway) first — and when.
It didn’t take long.
Ruben’s dancing elbows earned him a unanimous no-lift call on his second and third snatches at 124kg, clinching the snatch result for Vaipava whose opener at 121kg already bested Ruben’s result by a 1kg. All Vaipava needed to do was hold steady in his second attempt at 126kg and he would romp into the clean & jerks with a very healthy lead. But Vaipava struggled even more than Ruben, dropping both his second and third attempts at 126kg.
This would go down to the wire.
Ruben must have been feeling the pinch as he brought his clean & jerk opener down again to 155kg. A good lift here rebuilt his confidence as he whooped and fist-pumped his way off the platform.
Vaipava switched his opener, increasing it by 1kg to 161kg, to successfully extend his lead over Ruben. But he received a late down call on his second attempt at 165kg. Valiantly trying to settle his feet, he dropped the bar before the buzzer sounded. Sending a clear message to the judges, he redoubled his efforts for his final attempt at 165kg, schooling all those present in just how easily a person can throw two and a half times his bodyweight overhead.
Ruben couldn’t push out of the hole on his final clean at 165kg, despite trying twice, thus awarding the win in the 67s to Vaipava.
As for the Australians, Nicholas Predkowski’s listed entry total matched his best ever performance in the 73kg category: 242kg, which he achieved at the 2019 Senior Nationals. However, after a dicey first snatch, with a fair bit of knee knock rising out of the catch, Nicholas forfeited his remaining snatches and all three clean & jerk attempts. The Weightlifting Platform will try to find out what happened and if he’s OK.
James Delaney also listed his entry total to match his performance at last year’s Senior Nationals when he totalled 268kg — likewise, a career best. James was resolute in his snatch attempts, confidently nailing his first two. He just couldn’t catch the third at 120kg. He failed his first clean & jerk after copping a late down call, then made a good lift on his second, but dropped the third.
Both 61s, Elson Brechtefeld and Morea Baru, competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Elson put up a solid performance. Morea looked about as fierce a weightlifter as I’ve ever seen, as he went 5/6, only failing his second snatch by majority decision.
More judging controversy, too, as several lifts were reviewed by the jury after the centre judge gave a red flag while the outside judges called “good lift”. Could it be those pesky “elbow shadows” (as we’re now calling them at TWP)?
Morea Baru — Gold
Elson Brechtefeld — Silver
Vaipava Ioane — Gold
Katoatau — Silver
Ezekiel Moses — Gold
Larko Doguape — Silver
James Delaney — Bronze