Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

David Liti aims high at the Tokyo Olympics

Tongan weightlifter David Liti is ready for the Tokyo Olympics

The 2020 Summer Olympics is set to open on the 23rd of July in Tokyo, Japan. More than 200 athletes will represent team New Zealand across the 22 events including weightlifter David Liti.

David Liti has been raising the bar since he started lifting in 2015.

“I really want to be the best ever weightlifter to ever walk New Zealand,” David says.

It’s taken over three years to qualify for the Olympics, and the 25-year-old is keen to head to Japan to compete in his first Olympic games.

Tongan Weightlifter David Liti. Photo: John Pulu, Tagata Pasifika
Tongan Weightlifter David Liti. Photo: John Pulu, Tagata Pasifika

“It’s an honour, man. it’s a testament to all the work that’s been put in and all that stuff, so I am actually getting really excited the closer I am getting to going. So yeah, I am happy.”

The South Aucklander first picked up the sport at an after-school weightlifting club, where he met his coach Tina Ball. Fast-forward to May 2021 and the Kiwi-Tongan athlete has adjusted his training regime to taper for the games.

“I get a massage twice a week on top of rolling and stretching and things like that, so that would have been the major change. And my training weight has gone up a lot more compared to the 2018 Commonwealth games,” he says.

David was 21 years old when he won gold at the Commonwealth games in Australia three years ago. He even set a games record in his weight division and took out the David Dixon Award for sportsmanship at the games.

David Liti training before the Tokyo Olympics
David Liti training before the Tokyo Olympics. Photo: John Pulu, Tagata Pasifika

David admits it wasn’t easy getting his family onboard when he started in this sport.

“My family are supportive. At the beginning it was hard, because you know the expectations of getting a degree or working or studying, and you know, I took a gamble,” David says.

“I said I want to do this, and I made sure to do it. Because look, we are here now, today. They’ve seen where I am, and they are really glad and happy.”

Standing at 181cm and weighing around 177kgs, he’s grabbed his opportunities with both hands to follow his dream. Weightlifting has taken him all over the world to compete, but no matter where he is, he hasn’t forgotten the words of wisdom from his mum.

“If you do something, do it the best you can. That’s what my mum taught me when I was young,” he says.

“If you wash the dishes, do it the best you can. If you vacuum the house, do it the best you can. And that affected me in a big way ever since I grew up in Tonga.”

His parents are still in Tonga, and one day David hopes to throw his weight behind some charity work.

“I really want to give back not only to the South Auckland people and our PI people here in New Zealand but also to the islands as well.”

For now, the focus is on Tokyo.

“I really want to have a great time out there and I’m aiming for a 190 and a 240… that’s the goal weight,” David says.

By John Pulu

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