By Daniel Kerwin, Port Moresby 2015 Games News Service
PORT MORESBY, July 6 – Philip Toua Udia (PNG) couldn’t have had any more pressure on his final attempt in the men’s -77kg weightlifting event on Monday at the Port Moresby 2015 Pacific Games.
He was staring down 172kg on the bar for his final clean and jerk attempt, a full 6kg higher than the mark set by Francois Etoundi (AUS), and Udia needed every kilogram of it to move past Etoundi to win overall gold.
Udia never let himself have any doubt, nailing the attempt to earn gold in both the clean and jerk and overall event to send the home crowd at PNG Power Dome into raptures to complete the day’s competition.
“I knew that I was going to do it,” Udia said. “That’s why when my coach put it on, I was confident enough to go and do it – and I did it.”
Etoundi ended up with gold in the snatch (135kg) to go with silver in the clean and jerk (166kg) and overall (301kg).
Udia took silver in the snatch (130 kg), which paired with his massive clean and jerk gave him an overall total of 302kg.
Mitchell Delbridge (AUS) took bronze in the snatch with a lift of 125kg and Taretiia Tabaroua (KIR) made a bronze-medal winning lift of 155kg in the clean and jerk, a full 10kg higher than fourth-place finishers Israel Sutino Kaililekofe (WAF) and Logona Esau (TUV). Tabaroua ended up with the overall bronze medal despite finishing sixth in the snatch.
Udia and Etoundi were neck-and-neck throughout the entire event, but Etoundi’s clutch final lift of 135kg in the snatch left Udia with some room to make up in the clean and jerk.
Both Udia and Etoundi lifted 162kg on their first clean and jerk attempts, but Etoundi failed on his second attempt of 165kg, and Udia never made it to the stage for his second attempt as his clock ran out.
Etoundi seemingly took an insurmountable lead when he willed his 166kg attempt above his head, but it turned out all he had done was to set the stage for Udia’s dramatic finish.
“I’m pretty happy about what I’ve done today,” Etoundi said.
“Sometimes you’re the winner, sometimes you have to learn how to lose, then it makes you be more motivated to try to get to the next level and get back and train and try to fix up wherever you miss.”
Udia spent the hour following his victory mingling with a massive throng of supporters that stayed late at the venue to wish him congratulations and to take pictures with him and his haul of medals.
“There were so many people, and I loved it very much,” Udia said. “I love this crowd because it wasn’t pressurising me, it was really giving me that courage to boost up to whatever lift I was given.”
Udia’s efforts gave Papua New Guinea its eighth and ninth gold medals in just two days of the Port Moresby 2015 weightlifting competition.
Weightlifting events will continue on Tuesday with Papua New Guinea favourite Steven Kukuna Kari (PNG) competing in the men’s 94kg event Tuesday evening at 19:00.
“It always happens to Papua New Guinea, weightlifting always gives the first medals to the Papua New Guinea’sporting federation,” Udia said. “I’m happy and I’m proud that I’m one of them that made the medal tally go up to the top.”
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