Despite only having competed in weightlifting for a couple of years, Leading Seaman Suamili Nanai has his sights set on the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The combat systems operator-air already has a number of impressive titles under his belt.

In his first sanctioned competition in June 2019, Leading Seaman Nanai qualified to compete at the Australian National Championship, scheduled a few months later.

“Unfortunately, like so many other events the nationals were cancelled due to COVID-19, but the WA State Championships went ahead and I won gold by setting a new state record in the snatch competition,” Leading Seaman Nanai said.

He first took up weightlifting as part of his training regime for rugby.

But Leading Seaman Nanai soon discovered the call of the weights was stronger than that of the rugby ball.

“I decided to hang up my rugby boots and lace up my Legacy Lifters [shoes] instead,” he said.

“Since beginning my involvement in the sport, I have been under the watchful eyes of both the WA Weightlifting Federation and the Australian Weightlifting Federation in terms of securing a spot on the 2022 Commonwealth Games weightlifting team.

“At the end of 2020, I ranked first in my Australian ranking weight category and 10th in the Commonwealth rankings.”

Weightlifter Leading Seaman Suamili Nanai during a training session at HMAS Stirling in Western Australia under the watchful eye of Leading Seaman Physical Training Instructor Jakob Pekolj. Photo: Petty Officer Yuri Ramsey

Currently an instructor at the Surface Maritime Warfare Centre – West at HMAS Stirling, Leading Seaman Nanai joined the Navy from Brisbane seven years ago.

Despite having a busy professional life with a number of operational deployments to his name, Leading Seaman Nanai also boasts an impressive sporting record on the rugby field.

He was a member of the Australian Rugby Service team for three consecutive years, which included a tour of Japan in 2019.

Leading Seaman Nanai said he was fortunate his professional and sporting lives could co-exist to such a degree.

“Being at sea does make it difficult to train and compete, but I receive significant support from Navy and my workplace,” he said.

“In my current posting, I am able to train five days a week, which gives me a great work-sport balance.

“Plus, being in the Navy also allows me to train at Stirling gymnasium and also eat on board, which provides the balanced diet so important for weightlifters.”

Leading Seaman Nanai said he was now focusing on the 2022 Commonwealth Games and would be competing in a series of upcoming state, national and international events.

He said he would ultimately like to represent Australia at the 2024 Olympic Games.