This session had it all: a mix-up on the dais, some jousting in the 109s, and a breach of the entry total rules.
Kiribati’s “dancing weightlifter” David Katoatau and New Zealand’s Sione Tonga battled it out for gold in the 102kg class. Sione established his lead early, going into the clean & jerks with a healthy 6kg on his rival.
Katoatau brought it back to neck-and-neck when he nailed his opening clean & jerk, which was 6kg heavier than Sione’s. Sione pulled ahead again with a successful 160kg lift, but he couldn’t catch the clean on his third attempt at 165kg. Katoatau then matched Sione’s total with his second attempt at 166kg!
It would all come down to whether Katoatau could stick his final attempt at 170kg. The excitement on Katoatau’s face radiated in all directions when he caught the jerk strong and secure. He knew he’d won.
In the 109s, Aussie Josh Quinn came a distant fourth having a so-so day on the platform with a final result of 3/6 and a 275kg total. He attempted but missed competition PRs in both the snatch and clean & jerk,
Jackson Roberts-Young hit a competition PR on his second snatch attempt at 147kg though he missed the chance to extend that PR when he dropped his third attempt at 150kg.
The real story in the 109s was the fight between Matthew Lydement and Samoa’s Sanele Mao, who are both seeking an Olympic berth. Under the new Robi points system, Matthew went into the Open in front ofSanele, and, if Sanele bombed from here until the end of the current Olympic qualification period, Matthew was all but guaranteed a spot at Tokyo 2020. Of course, that’s a big “if”.
So, Matthew came to the platform meaning business. He had a flawless run in the snatch, hitting a new competition PR at 161kg — a new Oceania record, trumping Sanele’s 160kg, which he set at the 2019 Arafura Games.
Sanele very nearly mirrored Matthew’s flawless snatch session, receiving three white lights on his final attempt at 162kg, which would’ve reclaimed his Oceania record. However, the jury called “stop” and ultimately overturned the decision, much to the confusion of the speaker who announced the ruling was “because of [Sanele’s] left arm… I think…”. All this meant Matthew went into the clean & jerks with a 7kg lead on Sanele. Having said that, Sanele’s listed opening clean & jerk was 25kg heavier than Matthew’s, so…
Matthew set another new national record on his opening clean & jerk, this time for total. He then increased that record on his second lift at 182kg before missing the clean on his last attempt at 185kg.
Jackson Roberts-Young made a gutsy and inspiring last-ditch attempt to sneak past Matthew for silver by hitting 185kg on his second attempt and then electing to load an extra 12kg on the bar for his third.
He executed a strong pull, got pinned for a few seconds in the hole before summoning some heroic strength to slowly stand it up. He paused long to settle, catch his breath. He dipped. He drove. But he caught it lopsided with his left arm bent. An amazing effort but not enough. Matthew held onto silver and Jackson took bronze. Sanele took gold, despite missing his second two clean & jerks at 201kg.
There were only two competitors in the +109kg class, Sio Pomelile from Tonga and Lauititi Lui from Samoa. Sio performed well but didn’t have a hope of catching Lauititi, whose entry total (390kg) was 70kg heavier than Sio’s.
Lauititi took gold but not without some controversy. He made a good first attempt that was overturned, after a mysterious extended pause between lifts — with the clock stopped — because it breached the 20kg leeway given to every lifter’s entry total.
Then, a bit of levity during the medal ceremony as an official accidentally hung the bronze medal around Sanele’s neck. No one noticed until the true bronze medal winner, Jackson, was handed his medal, the gold, which he promptly and politely exchanged on the dais with Sanele. Thankfully, Jackson realised before Sanele had a chance to bite into his medal for a photo opp.
David Katoatau — Gold
Sione Tonga — Silver
Sanele Mao — Gold
Matthew Lydement — Silver
Jackson Roberts-Young — Bronze
Lauititi Lui — Gold
Sio Pomelile — Silver