Transition time as WF invites group

Della Shaw during a photoshoot. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

Weightlifting Fiji is going through a transition period where it is ready to forget its shaky past in order to regain prominence at international level.

The change has started from the helm of the association.

Former Oceania weightlifting queen and South Pacific Games gold medallist, Della Shaw-Elder was elected last week as the new president taking over from Australian-based Atma Maharaj.

First on Shaw-Elder’s list is taking the sport forward and uniting its members.

“I am very excited because of the support from the clubs and the executives to take the sport to the next level,” said the lone female International Weightlifting Federation accredited category one referee in the Pacific.

“This is a transition of two years. It did not happen overnight because we wanted the system we have put in place are carried forward. I have a very good team and we have our individual strengths, and we will work together to take weightlifting to the next level.”

The weightlifting referee and jury who had officiated at the Commonwealth Games, Oceania championships and world championships said she would rule with an open arm policy. She is inviting those who ditched the association two years ago because of a conflict that resulted in Fiji losing gold medal prospect for the 2020 Olympics, Eileen Cikamatana.

“We have tried to bridge the gap. We have invited the athletes to come back and I will continue to do that. There are processes in place for anybody who wishes to come back. We are doing this so that we do not have a repeat of this. We would not want this to happen to any sport. We are doing this to safeguard the sport.

“I welcome the athletes to come onboard if they wish to represent the country. Two have gone through the process and have re-signed to join the sport.”

Fiji Weightlifters Association general secretary Peni Tawai last week said: “We are still waiting for the right time and right people. We still want to represent the country, but no use representing the country under the leadership of wrong people in the sport. If Fiji wants to move forward then the only way is to do the right thing and ask these lifters and coaches to come back.”

Shaw-Elder, who started as a sprinter before moving to weightlifting before winning a gold medal in the 1995 South Pacific Games, said WF would promote the sport across the board and develop more officials and coaches.

She said WF would continue to send athletes abroad to train and the target was the Olympic Games in France.

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