Paul Coffa, brother of Australian Weightlifting Federation (AWF) President Sam Coffa, is one of the best coaches to ever come out of Australia — arguably of any sport..
Paul has resided in the Pacific Islands for over a quarter of a century, coaching some of the best talent Oceanian weightlifting has ever seen, including the unbelievable Eileen Cikamatana.
In the Oceania Weightlifting Federation (OWF) newsletter, Paul announced his move back to his home in Melbourne, Australia, on the 12th of June 2020.
In the letter, Paul writes, “Who would have thought that a virus — COVID19 — could rapidly change the world and cause a devastating impact to the economy, businesses, sports, and to our very lives.”
This is not only a sad development for Paul and his family but for the OWF and New Caledonia as well.
Paul grew up in the northern suburbs of Melbourne and coached Australia throughout one of its most successful eras for 29 years. But, in 1994, Paul headed off to the Pacific with his family with the idea of coaching Pacific Island lifters. He started in Nauru, then moved to Fiji in 2002, then Samoa in 2005, before ending up in New Caledonia where the Oceania Weightlifting Institute was based for 12 strong years.
Throughout this time Paul coached his athletes to 32 medals at the Commonwealth Games — 15 were gold. He also forged 45 Olympians and tallied other achievements too numerous to list here.
“The Institute program will not stop. It will still include Pacific lifters, but this time it will be in the Land Down Under.,” Paul explains in his letter.
We got in touch with Paul to learn more about his plans.
“We are still in quarantine. On my return to Melbourne I intend to take a few weeks off and relax and spend some time with my family after having spent 26 years in the Pacific. Then I will continue with the sport of weightlifting.”
“The Oceania Weightlifting Institute will continue once the coronavirus is over……we hope by the end of the year. The Institute program which is my brain child, will start up again, in Melbourne or Canberra. Or maybe another state. We have six months to plan the future of the institute program, whilst the Australian borders are closed.”
We also wanted to know what was happening with Eileen Cikamatana, who is Paul’s — and, in fact, Australia’s — top weightlifter.
“Nothing changes with Eileen. You don’t change coaches for an athlete at that level, especially in the sport of weightlifting. She will stay with me, whether it is Melbourne or the AIS or any other place where I will be,” Paul told The Weightlifting Platform.
“At this stage we are not sure whether she will be in Sydney for a couple of weeks, as she is a NSW registered lifter, and then train with me wherever that may be.
“She has been training very well until we left New Caledonia last week. She did three singles on 115kg and a 150kg clean & jerk at a bodyweight of 80.2kg.”
What this means at this point in time, we are unsure, but it’s safe to say Paul is not finished coaching and plans to continue to add to his already impressive and world-class record.