Weightlifter David Liti has been named as the New Zealand Team flagbearer for the Samoa 2019 Pacific Games.
The 22-year-old was named flagbearer by Chef de Mission Kristy Hill at a team function attended by around 50 athletes and support staff.
Hill says Liti was chosen as his values and actions perfectly represent the culture carried by the New Zealand Team.
“David is not only an extremely accomplished athlete but also a leader in his community and his sport,” said Hill.
“He leads through his actions and is an inspiration to New Zealanders, and especially to Pacifika athletes.
“It’s my absolute pleasure to present David with the New Zealand flag and name him as flagbearer. We look forward to him leading the New Zealand Team into the Opening Ceremony.”
Liti made headlines in New Zealand after he fell to the ground in tears, embracing coach Tina Ball as he won gold at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Liti competed in the 105kg+ division, establishing a new Commonwealth Games record with a 403kg combined total. He was also awarded the David Dixon Award for sporting spirit at the Commonwealth Games, after helping an opponent who injured himself in competition.
The South Aucklander, who spent the first 10 years of his life in Tonga, says he’s hugely proud to be named as flagbearer.
“This means a lot to me, I actually didn’t believe it when I got the call asking me to be flagbearer, it was pretty humbling.
“I’m proud as well because it’s a huge achievement for an athlete from South Auckland who almost didn’t pursue sport, so I’m really happy to be here. I’m looking forward to leading the team and it’s pretty special to be the one holding our flag.”
Liti says he’s looking forward to his second Pacific Games.
"I competed at the last Pacific Games and it's a special competition for me with my Pacific heritage.
“The level of weightlifting in the Pacific is really high so we're expecting some tough competition."
The results at the Pacific Games weightlifting competition provide ranking points towards qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
54 New Zealand athletes will contest the Games which are to be held in Apia, from July 7-20. Up and coming athletes will use the competition as a development opportunity, with the Games also allowing New Zealand to grow ties with its Pacific neighbours.