Marshall Islands elite weightlifter Mattie Sasser just keeps getting better, with her latest impressive effort at the Olympic Games in Brazil putting the Marshall Islands on the global sports map.
She placed second in her pool of eight lifters from around the world, one KG behind a German lifter and five ahead of a Swedish lifter. Overall, from Monday’s competition at the Olympics, the Mili teenager is now ranked number 11 in the world in her 58KG (128lb) weight class.
Monday’s combined lifts of 199KG (439lb) are another personal best for Mattie, topping Oceania records she set in May at the Oceania Championships in Fiji. The gold medal was won by a Thai lifter, who had a combined lift of 240KG, nearly 90 pounds more than Mattie’s.
In her pool, Mattie was both the youngest and lightest in weight. “She competed against Germany, Sweden, Ukraine, Australia, the Solomon Islands and United Arab Emirates,” reported Pacific Daily News reporter Jerick Sablan in the Guam daily earlier this week.
In the snatch, she lifted the most weight she’s ever done in any competition. She started with 82 kilograms and worked her way up to 87KG, said Sablan.
“It’s just an amazing feat for someone who lives on an island of 20,000 people to come out here and do this,” said her father and coach Terry Sasser.
Meanwhile, Marshall Islands Minister Tony Muller, who is in Rio, described the Olympic welcome accorded RMI as “awesome and goosebumps are the only words that come to mind.”
The day prior to last Friday’s Opening Ceremony of the games of the 31st Olympiad, the athletes and delegates of the Marshall Islands were officially welcomed into the Athletes’ village in Rio de Janeiro.
In true Brazilian style, Team RMI were treated to a show full of Samba and other forms of cultural Brazilian dancing which appeared to fill the athletes with inspiration for what is sure to be a fortnight of competition, fun and fiesta.
The athletes were addressed by the Mayor of the Olympic village, Janeth Arcain. The former Olympic medalist, who congratulated the athletes on their success of reaching the Games, was keen to also advocate the sportsmanship behind the Games, something that forms the basis for key Olympic values.
Mack Capelle, Chef De Mission and National Olympic Committee representative for the Marshall Islands, presented Arcain with traditional Marshallese “amimono,” a handicraft necklace and hat.
To conclude the ceremony, the dancers signed off with more Brazilian Samba and invited the athletes to try their hand at the dance, to which Marshallese athletes duly obliged, and how they did too!
The Olympic schedule for other RMIathletes (Rio time):
• 11 August 1pm – Giordan Harris, 50m freestyle swim
• 12 August 12pm – Mariana Cress, 100m athletics
• 12 August 1pm – Colleen Furgeson, 50m freestyle swim
• 13 August 9am – Richson Simeon, 100m athletics
Read more about the RMI at the Rio Olympic Games in the August 12, 2016 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.