The Paris Olympics beckon for Australian weightlifting star Eileen Cikamatana, who has made Commonwealth Games history with a record-breaking performance.
- Cikamatana won the 90kg class while representing Fiji on the Gold Coast
- Her second lift of 137kg in Birmingham won the gold, and she capped her win with a third lift of 145kg
- Cikamatana is recovering from a 26cm tear in her thigh
Cikamatana 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 now 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, and also set the clean and jerk and overall Games records.
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.
The achievements have come as Cikamatana recovers from a 26cm tear in her thigh last year — an injury so painful she cannot squat.
“They’re personal bests after the injury, I could say,” she said of the Games lifts.
“I’ve lifted 156 jerks and 121 snatches, yeah… here comes Paris, 2024. Here we go.”
Cikamatana was in tears at the medal ceremony and she paid tribute to coach Paul Coffa and his wife Lilly.
“I was emotional because I [am] 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 her achievements were worth all the grief from the split with Fiji.
“One million times, [the switch] is worth it,” she said.
“It’s something I never dreamed of getting.”
On Monday, fellow Australians Kyle Bruce and Sarah Cochrane won weightlifting silver.
And 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.