Morea Baru has finished in sixth place in the male 62kg weightlifting category at the Rio Olympics.
The young man from Hanuabada and Pacific Games gold medallist was the third of the eight PNG athletes to compete at the games.
Morea Baru, at 26 and currently PNG’s top weightlifter, says he surprised himself by his fantastic result.
Despite missing his last attempts in both the snatch and the clean and jerk, the Oceania Championship gold medallist had already done enough to secure a sixth place finish with a total of 290kg, of which 126kg was in the snatch and 164kg from the clean and jerk.
That total now ranks Baru number one in his weight category in the Commonwealth.
Going into the games, Baru was ranked amongst the top 10 in the world, and he won his second Oceania Championship earlier this year.
Baru is the only weightlifter from the Commonwealth to be competing in the A category of his weight division at the Rio Olympics.
Being his first Olympic Games Baru was excited to perform against the best in the world, and his nerves soon disappeared when the crowd in the Rio Centro Pavilion 2 arena cheered him on.
Baru’s finish matches the best performance by a PNG athlete at the Olympics, as Dika Toua also finished sixth at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
Despite missing out on a podium finish, Morea’s performance sets the bar for PNG lifters to beat. His three years of preparation and training on foreign soil leading up to the Olympics has put PNG on the map once again, a feat that he will no doubt strive to better next time around.
The 62kg category was eventually won by Colombian Oscar Albeiro Figuearoa Mosquera, providing Colombia’s first medal at Rio 2016.