You could be mistaken that this is a a photo (taken by M Baru) is of a young girl posing with a medal in hand – a medal possibly won by her mum, dad, elder brother or sister at the Pacific Games currently underway in Samoa. But not so. This is Idau Vagi – showing off her Silver medal won in the 40kg category under the Oceania competition at the Pacific Games.
Vagi is among a handful of lifters released from the weightlifting factory in Hanuabada to take on the Pacific. And make no mistake, PNG’s prospects of dominating the competition in the next decade is still intact with promising performances like Vagi’s.
At just 14 , Vagi is the youngest member of the PNG contingent currently in Samoa.
Her looks are deceiving indeed. Innocent looking face coupled with a body frame fit for following mum and dad around the shopping mall, Vagi instead is following heavy weights and medals around the Pacific.
Inspired by watching her heroes Toua, Toua Udia, Morea Baru and powerhouse Steven Kari, the young 14 year took up weightlifting at 12 years of age. There are many young girls and boys just like Vagi who dream about making it big y following the footsteps of their village heroes!
The young kekeni is a Grade 4 student at Hagara Primary School. From 8am to 2pm she’s busy lifting papers and pencils. When the clock strikes 4pm, she’s busy at the Hanuabada Weightlifting Gym lifting weights almost double her own weight.
One person who probably isn’t as surprised as many of us are is the owner of the Hanuabada Weightlifting Gym, Douglas Mea.
Douglas Mea is synonymous with success and the master coach behind PNG’s powerful weightlifting duo in Dika Toua and Steven Kukuna Kari. If there is ever anyone deserving of Knighthood in sport, Mea should have been Knighted long gone. The lack of resources and support, the consistency in his achievements and the fact that he keeps on pumping out a champion after champion one wonders what more can this man do to be officially recognized as champion himself.
Be that as it may, that little hump hasn’t prevented Mea a single bit and young lifters like Idau Vagi is testament to that.
Vagi is the daughter of proud parents Vagi Tau and Nou Reva from the Kwaradubuna Clan of Hanuabada – a clan also renown for producing national cricketers in the likes of Rarua Dikana and Mahuru Dai and in rugby league, Kumuls (late) Dikana Boge and brother Philip.
For a young girl, she has quite a hectic schedule with school and training taking much of the time. Aside from this, she says she likes to spend her free time “telling stories with her friends“.
And what’s your favorite food, we ask. Surprisingly, it’s SNAX biscuits – the food the PNG Athletics team are trying to keep away from!
And what is this kekeni’s ambitions? What does the future hold for her with this promising performances?
Vagi has her sights on training hard to compete in as many Pacific Games as she can and the ultimate – participating in the Olympics. It’s a big call but a positive one indeed to see someone still small dream big – dreams much much bigger than her very own Hanuabada Village.