'We're only scratching the surface' - Kiwi weightlifter David Liti sets sights firmly on 2020 Olympics

Having burst onto the weightlifting scene with gold at last year's Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, David Liti is hoping to add more medals to his trophy cabinet with his sights firmly set on next year's Tokyo Olympics.

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The Kiwi lifter and his coach spoke to Tagata Pasifika about their upcoming year. Source: Tagata Pasifika

Liti, 23, lifted an astonishing 403kg - a new Commonwealth Games record - on the Gold Coast last year, taking the gold medal and becoming a new Kiwi sporting hero in the process.

Speaking to TVNZ's Tagata Pasifika though, the ambitious lifter made it clear that he's not finished shining on the world stage - starting with Tokyo 2020.

"Since day one it's been the goal, the number one goal to make Olympics 2020," Liti said.

"There's a feeling about just being next to the best in the world, you know rubbing shoulder to shoulder. I can't explain it it's just crazy."

Keeping Liti in check however, is coach and long-time mentor Tina Ball, determined to keep his feet firmly on the ground, and his head out of the clouds, upping preparations with Tokyo approaching.

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Liti became a national hero on the Gold Coast, but wants more from Tokyo 2020. Source: 1 NEWS

"We've got to do six competitions, and we're only half-way through, so we've still got another twelve months to go," she said.

"We've been working on things that make weightlifters strong. Lots of squats, lots of over head work, lots of core work, so things that are going to translate to that bigger lift later in the year.

While success in the Commonwealth is one achievement, replicating Liti's performances on the Olympic stage are another challenge altogether. The Kiwi likely to come up against Georgia's Lasha Talakhadze, who's personal best sits at 50kg more than Liti's.

"We're closing the gap," Ball continues.

"We're clean lifters, so the sport is on an international level doing it's best to clean the sport up. "David and I like to often say, we're gonna do it clean and we are closing that gap on those big European lifters.

"My belief is that David's a late developer, alright. We're only scratching the surface of what David has to offer."

Liti's form this year makes for good reading, setting three new national records at last month's North Island championships.

"We're not gonna back down from anything, we're gonna go at it full steam," Liti says.

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Liti is aiming to use his story to help others like himself. Source: 1 NEWS

"I haven't felt this good within myself since years."

While Liti and Ball's bond may be closer to mother-son than coach-student, the pair are happy to deflect their own achievements onto the other.

"He's his own man and you can see that he's developed along the way, the experiences that have helped him to grow into the person he is today," Ball says of Liti.

Meanwhile, Liti is just as complimentary towards his long time coach and mentor.

"I don't think I'd be as good of an athlete if it wasn't for her."

Liti's Olympic dream isn't a reality just yet, with success at this year's Pacific Games just one step in his qualification journey towards Tokyo 2020.