Australian weightlifting body confirms accepting Cikamatana

Eileen Cikamatana performs the traditional 'cobo' as a mark of respect after receiving her gold medal. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

Eileen Cikamatana performs the traditional 'cobo' as a mark of respect after receiving her gold medal. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU/FILE

THE Australian Weightlifting Federation (AWF) has yesterday confirmed accepting Fiji’s top gold medal prospect to the 2020 Olympic Games (if she was not suspended) Eileen Cikamatana.

In answering The Fiji Times enquiry, AWF chief executive officer Ian Moir wrote: “In answer to your questions, Eileen Cikamatana has been granted permanent residency of Australia by the Australian Government.”

“As an Australian resident, she is entitled to apply for membership of the Australian Weightlifting Federation and participate in our domestic competition program. To represent Australia in international events, athletes must be Australian citizens, so Eileen cannot represent Australia until she attains citizenship.”

Cikamatana, who won Fiji’s lone medal in the Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, Australia, last year, has been training in New Caledonia since she was suspended by Weightlifting Fiji along with members of the Levuka Weightlifting Club.

The internal difference surfaced after WF appointed an expat coach after the Gold Coast gold medal win.

Club secretary Peni Tawai while responding to AWF’s revelation said: “The Levuka weightlifters and the people of Ovalau with majority of the public are excited and congratulates her for her new sporting journey. It signifies victory. We thank her for not giving up the fight for what she knows is best and right. I am happy with her.”

Meanwhile, Radio New Zealand reports that Cikamatana has her sights set on representing Australia at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

She won gold in the women’s under 90kg division at last year’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

She confirmed receiving her Australian permanent residency under the distinguished talent visa, and her international future will now be in the green and gold.

“If I get the passport then there’s several processes that I need to go through in order to qualify for certain events,” she said.

“For the Olympics (next year) I have no chance for that because since the process of getting a new passport will take a while and all I need to do is just keep training and keep waiting.”

Cikamatana would now be eligible to compete in local and state competitions after registering in New South Wales and was willing to wait as long as it takes to represent Australia.

“The Commonwealth Games in 2022, the World Championships – I’ve got the whole world in front of me,” she said.

Cikamatana will not celebrate her Commonwealth Games gold medal win after she was excluded by WF from tonight’s Fiji Sports Awards in Suva.

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