Cikamatana makes Games history with gold

Roger Vaughan |

Australian Eileen Cikamatana is the first woman to win Commonwealth Games gold for two countries..
Australian Eileen Cikamatana is the first woman to win Commonwealth Games gold for two countries..

The Paris Olympics beckon for Australian weightlifting star Eileen Cikamatana after she made Commonwealth Games history with a record-breaking performance.

Cikmatana won Australia’s first weightlifting gold at the Birmingham Games with lifts in the 87kg category that put her on a different level to the competition.

More significantly, she is the first woman to win Commonwealth Games gold for two countries, having won the 90kg class on the Gold Coast for Fiji.

“I don’t know how to describe it … I can’t fit it into words,” Cikamatana said of her achievement.

“I think it’s floating somewhere. I will need to grab it then I will let you know.”

Soon after the Gold Coast Games, Cikamatana switched to Australia after a dispute with Fiji’s weightlifting governing body over where she should train.

She was unable to compete at the Tokyo Olympics because she was still ineligible, but Cikamatana showcased her vast talent in Birmingham.

Cikamatana set the Games record in the category with her snatch lift of 110kg.

She then took the overall lead with her first clean and jerk attempt of 129kg.

Cikamatana’s second lift of 137kg won the gold medal, as well as setting the clean and jerk and overall Games records as well.

She capped her outstanding win with a third lift of 145kg, giving the Australian a total of 255kg.

Canadian Kristel Ngarlem won silver with 236kg and Nigerian Mary Osojo took bronze with her total of 225kg.

Cikamatana is also recovering from a 26cm tear in her thigh last year, an injury so painful she could not squat.

“They’re personal bests after the injury, I could say,” she said of the Games lifts.

“I’ve lifted 156 jerk and 121 snatch, yeah … here comes Paris, 2024, here we go.”

Cikamatana was in tears at the medal ceremony and paid tribute to coach Paul Coffa and his wife Lilly.

“I was emotional because I really appreciative of getting to represent the green and gold and standing on the podium, listening to the anthem,” she said.

“Representing the green and gold is a once in a lifetime opportunity and it’s a dream come true.

“They (the Coffas) made all these impossible dreams come true.”

Cikamatana was asked if it was worth all the grief of the split with Fiji to achieve what she has.

“One million times, it is worth it. It’s something (I) never dreamed of getting,” she said.

On Monday, fellow Australians Kyle Bruce and Sarah Cochrane won weightlifting silver.

Earlier on Tuesday, compatriot Ebony Gorincu finished sixth in the 76kg class and Ridge Barredo overcame a hip injury to finish fifth in the men’s 96kg category.