by Alan Ah Mu
APIA: THURSDAY 27 JUNE 2013: When Sagele Mao joined weightlifting just over a year ago it wasn’t a surprise the nickname his new sport gave him.
It was “Maso,” Samoan for Muscle.
For amongst the weightlifters he now trained with he displayed the most defined and prominent muscles, a six pack included.
Because of that tourism officials photographed him with a Miss Samoa contestant and with tourists paddling canoes in a promotion drive.
Not long beforehand Mao was one of our top bodybuilders with a silver medal under his belt won at the 2011 Pacific Games in New Caledonia, and two silvers earned at two previous competitions in New Zealand.
In an update of his lifters recently coach Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork said “Maso” was making impressive progress.
Shortly after and following trials Tuaopepe picked Mao for his team for the Oceania champs in Brisbane next month.
“This will be my first international competition in weightlifting,” said Mao.
He’s focused on what he’s in the sport for – to win a medal for Samoa, his family and for himself as tangible reward for the hard training he’s put in.
“If you train the level of your lifts improve.”
Miss a day or two of training and he feels a loss of strength the next session.
“It feels like I’ve just started,” said Mao.
Thanks to bodybuilding he joined weightlifting familiar with weights and discipline.
“When it’s time to train, train.”
Close to competitions bodybuilding demands on diet already hard, become stricter so that for instance each athlete was restricted to one litre of water a day.
So with a grin Mao admits to occasions of having “stolen water.”
But after the 2011 Pacific Games the bodybuilding team dispersed to overseas and having to train alone and adhere to a strict diet proved too much.
Attracted by the regular competitions held by weightlifting Mao changed sports around March last year.
He knew most of the top lifters also.
It was the techniques of weightlifting he had to learn.
Bodybuilders build up muscles via slow repetitions of lifting weights.
Weightlifting is more explosive, with speed, timing and technique combined to complete a successful lift.
With veteran Fa’avae Fa’auliuli still to complete recovery from a severe should injury last year Mao has been picked to replace him in the senior’s 94kg division at the Oceania for 10 – 14 July.
SAMOA WEIGHTLIFTING TEAM – OCEANIA CHAMPIONSHIPS
69kg – Vanessa Lui (Senior)
75kg – Mary Opeloge (Senior)
75+kg – Ele Opeloge (Senior)
56kg – Faitamai Aliu (Junior & Senior)
62kg – Nevo Ioane (Senior)
77kg – Toafitu Perive (Senior)
85kg – Bob Pesaleli (Senior)
94kg – Petunu Opeloge (Junior & Senior)
94kg – Sagele Mao (Senior)
105kg – Tovia Opeloge (Senior)
105+kg – Junior Tasi (Junior & Senior)
Coach – Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork
Manager – Ola Salimu Lui