By Jay Leon Guerrero
After 17 stagnant years, the Guam Weightlifting Federation will compete in a flag event. Thanks to the valiant efforts of Jesse Rosario and Ryan Claros, Team Guam will send nine athletes to the upcoming Pacific Games in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
Four females and five males will represent Guam in Port Moresby with not only medals on the line, but a spot in the Olympic Games next year in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Team manager Rosario confirmed that gold medalists from the Games will have a spot in the Olympic Games.
All competitors will be going on their first weightlifting competition.
Team Guam members include
“My brother Ryan and Jesse (Rosario) really pushed for the federation to get started again. We had a qualifying meet and the team was chosen based on the results from that meet,” said Paul Claros.
The athletes will be competing in different weight classes in two categories: clean-and-jerk and snatch. All competitors are no strangers to competition with the team composed of former rugby players, wrestlers, cross fitters and track athletes.
“I’ve played many sports majority of my life, I’ve never been good enough to represent my island in those sports in international events. Now I have the opportunity, it means a lot and it’s a big accomplishment and I’m excited to compete,” said Holm.
“This is probably everyone’s first international meet. But based on our results, we all rank in the top 10 going into the tournament. Our goal is to get to the top 5 or higher,” said Paul Claros. “Coach Paul is our leader, he sets all our workouts and guides all of us in training,” said Bonanno.
At 17-years-old, Bonanno is the youngest competitor on the team and he is anxious to see how he will do at the Games. “I’m excited to see how I do against competitors from New Zealand and Australia. I’m going to attend my first semester at the University of Arizona after the Games and I plan to keep weightlifting. I intend to keep training and see how far this can take me,” said Bonanno. “I’ll keep training and compete for Guam in future events”.
Sisters Kayla and Kim Taguacta are no strangers to competition, they have both competed for Guam in Rugby. With the Rugby Women’s team not going to the Pacific Games, the sisters both worked hard and made the weightlifting team. “When I went off island in prior competitions, I would see our Guam flag and that really got to me. I’m excited to represent our island again and I will do my best,” said Kim Taguacta.
Molinos guides team
The team lifts daily and assembles three times a week as a unit at the Custom Fitness gym in Anigua. Words of encouragement echoed throughout the workout room, as former Olympian Edgar Molinos looked on.
Molinos, who has been a 4-time participant and medalist at the South Pacific Games and a former Olympian (1992 in Barcelona, Spain), is helping the team by giving his pointers and suggestions.
“I speak for everyone that when he comes to our sessions we try and limit our mistakes to try and show Coach Edgar that we are legit,” said Concepcion. Concepcion and the team is grateful for the help Molinos has bestowed upon them. “We still get nervous when he is around but we take in all his pointers and techniques from him,” Kim Taguacta.
“Right now, they are training hard. They are more powerful now, their strength is there. Leading up to the competition, we are just making some tweaks to their technique.
For both men and women, this is like a family, they push each other and help one another. I really didn’t have that luxury in my time,” said Molinos.
The team departs in two weeks and they will compete in different weight divisions with no more than two people on team Guam in the same weight class. “I went to school in the states and when I came back to Guam I made it a goal to represent the island in sports. Fortunately for me, I found an outlet in weightlifting and the team really is thankful to Ryan and Jesse for this opportunity,” said Concepcion.
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