“I had no idea” says Team Niue’s sole weightlifter on suspension to compete at Birmingham Games

Niue weightlifting athlete Giovanni Toimata | Photo credits: Facebook/Papatoetoe Olympic Weightlifting Club

Team Niue’s sole weightlifter Giovanni Toimata was suspended to compete at the Commonwealth Games just days after arriving in Birmingham last week Wednesday. 

Shocking news it was for the athlete who received a letter from the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) confirming his suspension. 

The unexpected notice caused the athlete to be removed from the team and was stripped off from any affiliation to participate in the games. 

BCN News was able to speak with Giovanni via Zoom on Tuesday this week who shared his story. 

“I arrived at the village and everything was working out smoothly. Then about three or four days into training we received a letter confirming that I hadn’t complied to standards that were enforced by the IWF, which was all news to me,” says Giovanni. 

The weightlifting athlete was meant to compete in the 109 kg plus weightlifting category. And as far as Giovanni understood he was doing everything right.

“According to this letter that we had received, there were numerous emails asking for correspondence sent to a governing (weightlifting) federation of Niue that weren’t actually sent through to me. So based on the miscommunication I wasn’t able to become aware that I had missed anything and basically, it kicked me out of the games.”

“Basically there was a section of my admin’s profile that is supposed to tell the IWF where I am at all times and that wasn’t filled out. But I had no idea,” says Giovanni. 

Efforts to maintain his participation in the games through an appeal were eventually denied. 

It was an even greater pill to swallow when he had to tell his family he was not competing. 

“Being a father to five children is a lot of responsibility. So for me to duck off for three weeks it’s a huge deal. My home life has taken a bit of a toll.”

The weightlifting athlete had been training and preparing to compete at the Birmingham Games over the past few months. 

“I’m really disappointed because there’s a degree of this that maybe somehow I could’ve taken into my own responsibility.”

“It doesn’t feel like a waste but it feels like the build up and the stress that we went through maybe hasn’t seen its full potential come to light,” says Giovanni. 

Despite being away from the village, Team Niue continues to send Giovanni support and updates of the team’s progress in the games.

The CGF has helped to fund for his accommodation while being away from the village. But despite all that has occurred, Giovanni continues to be optimistic of what the future holds. 

“I’d really like to incorporate a lot more of our island on the next part of our journey moving forward and looking forward to being able to share a story and share progress as well.”

According to Niue Weightlifting Federation President Narita Viliamu-Tahega, NISCGA had stopped all communications between the federation and the weightlifting athlete. 

And is part of the reason for the miscommunications which was the end result of the suspension. 

But despite the shortcomings between NISCGA and the Niue Weightlifting Federation in previous months, Narita would like to “apologise to Giovanni for what’s happened and hope to retrieve the relationship and continue to represent Niue in the future games.”

Attempts to contact Team Niue’s Chef de Mission Tony Edwards and General Team Manager Brad Ikinepule Etuata were unresponsive.

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