TEAM SAMOA completes the first Olympics week

Ele Opeloge carrying the Samoan flag during the Olympics opening

*Toleafoa Douglas Creevey of Bluesky Team Samoa reports from London:

LONDON OLYMPICS: The long anticipated participation of our highest world-ranked athlete Ele Opeloge in the Women’s 75kg+ Weightlifting passed uneventfully as she failed to find her top form.

Our most favoured athlete to be close to medal contention after her Gold Medal win at the Commonwealth Games last year and her number 4 world ranking had the most unfortunate preparation to her Olympic competition, where she was looking to repeat or better her 4th Place at the Beijing Olympics back in 2008.

After Typhoid earlier this year and training hard to get back to competitive fitness to compete and qualify in the Commonwealth qualifiers in Samoa in June, she then caught Chicken Pox just a week before departing Samoa so she was always fighting hard to get back into top shape. During the first week of training in London coach Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork reported she was regaining her strength and lifting closer towards her previous bests.

Over this recent second week however, Ele has been struggling with a strain of flu and a cough, which left her with chest congestion and fatigue restricting her full participation at training. Her fellow female roommates all offered her support and care, and even isolation she asked for to help recover as medicinal options were limited just before competition. At her Competition today, she appeared to be sluggish and her usually aggressive game face wasn’t there.

After initially registering 120kg on the board for her first lift for the ‘Snatch’, Ele instead came out early when the weight was 117kg. She completed the Snatch successfully but the lift didn’t appear to go as smoothly as expected. Ele then failed twice at Snatching 122kg, which normally she would have executed well.

In the ‘Clean & Jerk’ lift Ele was successful with her lift of 150kg. She then failed to lift 155kg so she registered a Competition total of 267, which eventually gave her 6th Place overall.

The exciting Competition continued with the crowd witnessing record-breaking lifts by the competitors from Russia and China as they battled for the win. Tatiana Kashirina from Russia took out the Snatch competition with a new World Record of 151kg to better China’s 146kg. Chinese champion Zhou Lulu then responded by winning the Clean & Jerk with an Olympic record equalling lift of 187kg to better the Russian’s 181kg. The winning Total of 333 was a new World Record total and a Gold medal score for Zhou Lulu of China.

Ele and the Weightlifting group return to Samoa this week while the others will stay to support those competing this week through to the Closing Ceremony this weekend before returning next week. The competition dates and times for the rest of the Team Samoa events (Samoa Time is 12 hours ahead of UK):

Canoe Sprint: Rudolph Berking-Williams in the 1000m, Mon 6th Aug – Heats start at 9.54am UK

Canoe Sprint: Rudolph Berking-Williams in the 200m, Fri 10th Aug – Heats start 9.51am UK

Taekwando: Talitiga Crawley in the Women’s, Sat 11th Aug – 9.00am UK

Taekwando: Kaino Thomsen in the Men’s, Sat 11th Aug – 9.15am UK

*Toleafoa Douglas Creevey Bluesky Team Samoa Photos and at www.facebook.com/TeamSamoaLondonOlympics2012