The cancelation of a top-level tournament and restrictions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic will not discourage weightlifter Antonette Labausa from picking up where she left off.
Labausa was supposed to compete in the Oceania Championships in Nauru in August, but the event was scrapped due to the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, the Oceania Championships did not play out and I was extremely disappointed because of the blood, sweat, and literal tears put into all of the training leading up to what we were expecting to be the competition. However, I had to remind myself that there will be more competitions in the future and not to give up,” said Labausa, who went through a four-month training camp in Samoa in preparation for the regional tournament.
While in Samoa, Labausa took note of the significant improvement she had and was thankful for all the assistance she received from her host family and fellow weightlifters.
“The highlight of the camp for me was honestly the training and the 14kg improvement total of my lifts, the snatch and clean & jerk. The athletes in Samoa are just so tenacious, and their energy was so contagious that it made me want to be better and give my all every training session that we had,” the multiple Micronesian Games (2018 in Yap) gold medalist said.
Labausa started training in Samoa late December and completed the camp early April. She was supposed to fly out of Samoa for Nauru last April 15 for the Oceania Championships, but ended up staying in Apia for another week when the competition was canceled due to the pandemic.
“I was blessed to stay with a very kind Samoan family and one of the female coaches at the camp, Tauvale Fala,” said Labausa, whose long journey back home finally ended last June 1, as she had to make a stop in Hawaii to visit her parents.
When she came back, restrictions in large gathering, including sports competition and related events, have been implemented, limiting the opportunities for her to train. However, once the restrictions were eased, Labausa resumed her rigorous workout, not putting into waste what she had accomplished in Samoa.
“I train five to six days a week and that includes four days of lifting and one to two days of explosive training with one of my newly acquired coaches, Liamwar Rangamar. I am hoping that with her experience and her help, we could get my lifting to where it needs to be by addressing my weaknesses that transfer over to Olympic weightlifting,” the 25-year-old athlete said.
“I am looking at regaining my progress that I have made in Samoa with an approach that is slower, but there is a lesser risk of injury,” Labausa said.
While training, Labausa also helps out the CNMI Weightlifting Federation and her fellow lifters in competing in a virtual contest—the 2020-2021 Oceania Weightlifting Federation League Email Tournament.
“During these monthly online competitions, we have had some old and new lifters participate and they are doing very well. There is also the Oceania Cup in November, which I will be lifting in,” Labausa said.
While she is pleased to compete virtually, Labausa’s ultimate goal is to represent the CNMI to the Mini Games in 2022.
“My goal as an athlete right now is to stay healthy, in shape, be injury free, and to be consistent with my lifting to work towards the Mini Pacific Games. I have a lot of work to do, and right now, I don’t even know if there will be weightlifting in the Mini Pacific Games, but I’ll be ready regardless,” Labausa said.
In the initial list of sports proposed for the Mini Games, weightlifting was excluded. However, there have been discussion on adding events to the CNMI-hosted competition, including the weightlifting that has steadily delivered medals to the Commonwealth.