"In a faxed letter dated May 7, Dr. Tamas Ajan, President of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), the international governing body for the sport of weightlifting, officially notified the FSM National Olympic Committee (FSMNOC) that FSM male weightlifter, Manuel Miningfel (Yap), had qualified on individual merit for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Miningfel is the first FSM athlete to ever qualify for an Olympic Games.
Dr. Ajan stated, "I am pleased to advise you that Miningfel is ranked in the top 10 (10th) on this Olympic Qualification Ranking List in his body weight category (62 kg), and is so individually qualified to receive an invitation to the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens." According to Dr. Eliuel K. Pretrick, FSMNOC President, "This is the biggest achievement in the history of sport in the FSM. No other countries in the Micronesian region qualified an athlete. Only 3 to 4 athletes qualified from all the Pacific islands. We all should be proud of Manuel. He has put the FSM on the Olympic map". The FSMNOC office confirmed that Miningfel would carry the FSM flag at the Opening Ceremony of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
The Sydney 2000 Olympic Games were the first Olympic Games that the FSM competed in. The FSM sent 5 wild-card entrants as non-qualified athletes. Miningfel, one of the 5 athletes, competed in the 56 kg weight division and did not complete a lift due to dehydration and weight loss.
Since then, Miningfel has won gold medals in the 62kg weight division in the 2002 Micronesian Games (Pohnpei), 2003 Oceania Weightlifting Championships (Tonga), 2003 South Pacific Games (Fiji) and 2004 Oceania Weightlifting Championships (Fiji).
He is now ranked the number one weightlifter in all weight divisions in the entire Pacific region, including Australia and New Zealand. Since February, he has been training at the Oceania Weightlifting Institute in Fiji, under world-class coach Paul Coffa.
Coffa, Oceania Weightlifting Federation (OWF) Secretary General, advised the FSMNOC that Vanston Waguk, Kosrae weightlifting coach, must be selected as Manuel's Olympic coach, since he is the only FSM coach who holds an OWF Level One Coaching Certification. An Oceania Olympic Training Scholarship and Olympic Solidarity Grant funded Minginfel's training and accommodation costs in Fiji.
The FSM Olympic delegation will depart on Monday, August 9 for Athens, Greece. The delegation is made up of 5 athletes - Tracy Ann Route (female swimmer), Anderson Bonobart (male swimmer), Evangeleen Ikelap (female runner), John Howard (male runner) and Miningfel; 4 coaches - Sweeter Daniel (swimming), Marcellus Akapito and Ted Rutun (track and field) and Waguk; 2 Youth Camp participants - Mendilla Harong and Roger Gilmete; Berney Martin (Chef de Mission/General Manager); Bermin Weilbacher (Press Attaché); Dr. James Yaingelou (Team Doctor); Lestly Ashby (Administrative Staff); Jim Tobin (FSMNOC Secretary General) and Dr. Pretrick. The Olympic Games will be held from August 13-28."