Jenly Tegu Wini lifts Solomon Islands to history
Weightlifter Jenly Tegu Wini led the Solomon Islands into the Opening Ceremony as the flagbearer and then made history as its first Commonwealth Games medallist.
Tegu Wini has been the Solomon Islands' flagbearer at the last two Olympics and 2014 Commonwealth Games.
With a total lift of 189kg, the 34-year-old won bronze in the women's 58kg at Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre, behind Australian gold medallist Tia-Clair Toomey and Canada’s silver medallist Tali Darsigny.
England’s Laura Hewitt finished in third place, followed by New Zealand’s Alethea Boon, who returned to the Games 20 years after she first represented New Zealand at the 1998 Games in gymnastics.
“I made history today,” Tegu Wini said.
“It’s a big thing for my country.
“In Solomon Islands, girls normally don’t do this kind of sport. I think now that I’ve created history for the country, maybe more girls will be interested in weightlifting now.”
Fourteen athletes are representing the Solomon Islands at GC2018 across Athletics, Boxing, Swimming, Table Tennis, Triathlon and Weightlifting.
Competing in her third Commonwealth Games, Tegu Wini is hoping her medal will raise the profile of the sport and inspire the nations younger athletes to never give up.
“My message to them, especially for young girls and school drop-outs, is that there’s something else other than education. You can keep going with sport,” she said.
President of the Solomon Islands National Olympic Committee, Martin Rara said the historic moment will shape the future of the sport in the Solomon Islands.
“Weightlifting from today on will no longer be a sport that is a minority to the sporting community,” he told Radio New Zealand.
“Before Jenly came, weightlifting was just regarded as a small minor sport but it’s a medal-winning sport. For sports in Solomon Islands it’s for the first time that the government will start to see and refocus the attention to sport.”
Tegu Wini trains predominantly in New Caledonia at the Oceania Weightlifting Institute. In September 2017 she won the Commonwealth and Oceania Championships for the second time, with just three months of training to prepare after taking some time off following the Rio 2016 Olympics.
GC2018 Weightlifting is on at Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre, with competition finishing on Monday 9 April. Tickets are still available.