To qualify for weightlifting at the Olympics the International Olympic Committee requires all lifters to compete – and therefore be officially drug tested – in three six month periods leading up to the games.
Cikamatana did not compete in the first of those windows (1 November 2018 to 30 April 2019) because she was in the process of becoming Australian, however she was drug tested in it and passed.
Australia’s small, but tight-knit weightlifting community is abuzz at the prospect of Cikamatana’s star shining at Tokyo in the green and gold. Coffa says that in his 53 years involved in weightlifting he hasn’t seen a talent as bright as Cikamatana, who won gold as a 19-year-old for Fiji at last year’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
In May this year, at the age of 19 at a non-International Weightlifting Federation sanctioned competition in Sydney, Cikamatana snatched 118kg and clean and jerked 150kg, a total of 268kg.
That puts her a whopping 18kg ahead of the current no.1 ranked woman in her weight division in the world.
She broke her own clean and jerk world record of 151kg by lifting 152kg on Saturday at an invitational weightlifting event in Melbourne’s outer south-east suburb of Noble Park, in front of about 100 people (it was not officially recognised as this was not an IWF sanctioned event).
“The world has never seen anything like her,” Coffa told The Age.
He said the IWF should allow her to compete in Tokyo. The Australian Weightlifting Confederation is working to convince the IWF to give her special consideration.
“We are trying. It is not going to be easy,” Coffa said. “It can be done if the IOC says. It is not fair what happened to her [in Fiji]. They had no right to penalise a girl who wanted to be coached by the person she was comfortable with. And not coached by somebody she doesn’t know.
“It wasn’t her fault. She has done the right thing and she is a victim of circumstances and regulation.
“If the IWF want to be fair and they want the best at the Olympics … they will let her.”
Remarkably placid and laid back, Cikamatana told The Age that she had put going to Tokyo out of her mind. Getting there would be a bonus.
“Right now I don’t think I have that much chance [of making the 2022 Olympics], so I am just concentrating on the Commonwealth Games in 2022 and the 2024 Olympics, and competing in every world championships and competition I can.
“The Olympics in 2020, that’s not in my mind. The whole world is in front of my so I can take the opportunities I can.”
Anthony is a sports reporter at The Age.