RMI lifter sparkles in Apia

Marshall Islands weightlifter Mike Riklon shows his style in the clean and jerk competition at the Oceania Weightlifting Federation’s (OWF) Youth, Junior and U23 Championships in Apia, Samoa last week. Mike won gold, making him the Oceania champion in his weight class of 55kg (121 pounds)
Marshall Islands weightlifter Mike Riklon shows his style in the clean and jerk competition at the Oceania Weightlifting Federation’s (OWF) Youth, Junior and U23 Championships in Apia, Samoa last week. Mike won gold, making him the Oceania champion in his weight class of 55kg (121 pounds).

In the first session of the 2023 Oceania Weightlifting Federation’s (OWF) Youth, Junior and U23 Championships in Apia, Samoa last week, Marshall Islands weightlifters started strong with Mike Riklon winning the gold medal in the under-23 category in his 55kg (121 pounds).

Not only is he now the reigning Oceania U23 Champion, but his six-for-six lift performance set new personal, national and Oceania records in the 55kg weight class.

Marshall Islands National Olympic Committee and Weightlifting Federation President Tony Muller remembers first seeing Mike lift when he was only eleven years old attending Laura Elementary School.

“Mike’s performance was spectacular!” Tony said. “I was in the middle of international travel and was eagerly awaiting the recap of the competition on YouTube. Watching him step up and win by a large margin without missing a single lift brought great pride to our nation!”

Mike’s outstanding performance sets the stage for a great Pacific Games match-up later this year between Mike and his main competitor, Philip Masi of the Solomon Islands, who is currently training in China. His total pushes Mike onto the world ranking list, joining teammate Mattie Sasser, among the top weightlifters in the world.

Shortly after Mike’s session, female lifter Takeniti Atantaake had her international debut, besting Nauru and Samoa to take the silver U23 medal behind Solomon Islands in the 59kg (130 pounds) competition.

The following day, Takeniti’s younger sister Merean (junior, 71kg/156 pounds) and brother Jans Massey (youth, 81kg/178 pounds), with Coach Atantaake Bureka, competed, with Massey taking bronze in the youth and junior competition.

The final day of the tournament, veteran Youth Olympic Games weightlifter Joshua Ralpho won the silver U23 medal in the men’s 96kg (211 pounds) session.

Coming out of Covid and with no outside competitions for the past three years, the Marshall Islands Weightlifting Federation sent its top weightlifters to Samoa Weightlifting Federation’s High Performance Training Center in Apia to train in an elite environment with some of Oceania’s and the world’s best lifters. Senior lifters Mattie Sasser and Raymond River have been training there with Riklon and the Atantaake sisters for the last five months.

“This competition proves that the Marshall Islands is not only competing but showing success over countries including Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, PNG and the Solomon Islands,” said National Coach Terry Sasser.

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