Antonette Labausa won a gold medal and David Barnhouse settled for silver in the 2021 Oceania Senior Weightlifting Championships held virtually over the weekend.
The CNMI National Weightlifting Team coaches competed live via internet in the International Weightlifting Federation-sanctioned event along with a small delegation of CNMI weightlifters at the weight room of the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.
Labausa competed in the 81-kilogram category last Saturday. Her best snatch was 66kg (145.2lbs); her best clean and jerk was 91kg (200.2lbs) for a total of 157kg (345.4lbs) which was good enough for first place and a gold medal.
“Although this was not my best performance, I am happy to have won gold. The ultimate goal for me is to perform as best as I can at the Mini Games next year. As well as the Micronesian Games that follows right after,” Labausa told Saipan Tribune in a social media message.
She said competing virtually was new to her, but did acknowledge that COVID-19 has made it difficult to compete like everyone acustomed to.
“I’m usually not a fan of virtual competitions because so many technical errors can happen during your lifts but I’m still grateful to be able to compete in some way during the pandemic.”
She thanked the CNMI Weightlifting Federation and her partner, Devine Pua, for helping her to strike gold in the 2021 Oceania Senior Weightlifting Championships.
Labausa is also grateful that she was able to return to form after taking a respite from training.
“I took a small break after the Marianas Cup at the end of March and came back to training mid-April. So we have been training for a few months and unfortunately I have had some injuries re-surface during those few months.”
Barnhouse nearly duplicated Labausa’s feat competing in the over 109kg category before settling for silver. He had a snatch of 110kg (242lbs), clean and jerk of 145kg (319lbs) for a total of 255kg (561lbs) earning him second place in his weight division.
He said the 2021 Oceania Senior Weightlifting Championships is part of his training for next year’s Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games the islands will host for the first time ever.
“We’ve been training for the Mini Games next year. This was just a stepping stone in the overall plan,” he said.
Asked how strange it was to compete virtually, Barnhouse admits that it takes some of the excitement out of competition.
“There’s a lot less adrenaline when competing virtually. I like it better in person.”
CNMI Weightlifting Federation president John Davis congratulated Labausa and Barnhouse for bringing home medals. He also thanked Barnhouse, Greg Borja, and Emmanuel Aquino for helping the organization stage the virtual competition.
“To the best of my knowledge this is the first time our weightlifting athletes have competed at this level. I’m extremely proud of them and their success. Due to COVID-19, participation in sports in the Pacific region at the international level has been slow or not at all. The Oceania Weightlifting Federation took a somewhat unique approach to keep athletes competitive by hosting the 2021 Oceania Senior Weightlifting Championships via live internet with the small CNMI contingent competing against the rest of Oceania via internet at the Ada Gym weight room at the Oleai Sports Complex,” he said.