As the bar bending under 115 kilos thudded to the ground, Papua New Guinea’s 30-year-old weightlifter Dika Toua sank to her knees. Copious tears streamed over the plates as Toua was overcome by emotion. To Dika’s left though, the moment sparked off unbridled celebrations.
Chika Amalaha was engulfed by her coaches, all of them letting out loud whoops of joy. The 16-year-old from Abaia in Nigeria had set a new Commonwealth Games record, totaling a weight of 196 kg on her way to an incredible gold medal in the 53 kg women’s event at the Clyde Auditorium.
While Toua continued to sob 20 minutes after the medal ceremony, the teenaged Amalaha was the perfect picture of composure. “Weightlifting according to me is a mental sport rather than a muscle sport.
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I had prepared for the last six months with only the gold medal as my goal. When I stepped into the arena today, I knew I was good enough to get that,” she said, before being enveloped by an ecstatic swarm of Nigerians, who boisterously cheered every lift that the youngster completed.
India, who had begun very well in the snatch event, leading the table managed only a bronze medal at the end. A ‘massive error’ of judgement by Swati Singh put the 27-year-old out of medal contention. But, Santoshi Matsa, all of 19 and the daughter of a daily wager from Vizianagram, kept her composure to total 188 kg and take home a deserved medal.
“I don’t know what to say. In practice I was only managing to go up to 184 kilos. Today, I just gave it everything I had. 188 is a good number and I think I could not have done much better considering the kind of lifting that was on display,” said Matsa.
The 19-year-old who started weightlifting only four years ago on the insistence of her uncle, seemed lost for words.
Records tumbled, almost by the minute in the event. Singh first broke the Commonwealth Games record in the snatch, lifting 83 kg, which was immediately equalled by Matsa.
Amalaha then turned up to break it once again, hoisting a lift of 85 kg. But the moment of the day, was the 30-year-old Dika’s second lift in the clean and jerk. The imposing Papua New Guinean coolly executed a 111 kg lift, paused for effect after completing the clean, bellowed out a ‘watch’ to the adoring audience in the auditorium before emphatically jerking the weight skywards.
Singh, who had endured similar heartbreak at Delhi in 2010, was inconsolable at the end. “I simply cannot believe how the same thing can happen to me all over again.
I had gone up to 190 kg in training but then I just blanked out in the clean and jerk,” she said. Singh’s first lift in the section was 100 kg but her second and third lifts were deemed erroneous by the jury, she also failed to complete an 85 kg lift in her third attempt in the snatch, the effort being timed out.
Amalaha though was in a league of her own. She failed to lift 85 kg in the snatch, her second attempt. However, after a short break she came back to effortlessly execute the lift. Interestingly, Amalaha had lifted 87 kg in the snatch at the African Youth Games in Botswana in May this year.
Her coach, Ahuoiza Onubaye said that the Nigerian camp was waiting all along to unveil Amalaha to the world. “This girl is special. She is an absolute natural. In this competition we knew there was no trouble.
We had met most of the lifters here at Malaysia in the Commonwealth Championship in Malaysia last year and it was clear that Chika would have no problem showing her potential here,” she beamed.