Mili Article

Client: Fonterra (Anchor)
Company: Pasifika Communications Limited
Role: Writer
Year: 2017

As part of the Anchor Campaign in the Pacific, I wrote articles about the Brand Ambassadors that were used in newspapers in Fiji and Tonga. The articles were also used for social media content. This article was about Mili, the main Anchor brand ambassador for Fiji and the Pacific.

Seinimili Turner – Age is just a number

Age should never prevent anyone from achieving great things. Powerlifter and world record holder, Seinimili Turner is almost 64 years old and proves every day she that she is still strong through her determination and training.

Seinimili – also known as ‘Mili’, ‘– grew up in Taveuni on an estate with her family. Her favourite chore was milking the cows. Every morning before school she collected the milk and the cream, but kept most of it for herself. When her parents found out, they took away that chore immediately. Even today Mili says that she still drinks most of the milk at home. She knows that she grew up big and strong because of all the milk she used to drink as a child. 

When Mili was still in primary school her parents split up and her mother fell ill. She and her siblings ended up living with different relatives in the village because their father remarried and their mother was in hospital in Suva. Mili remembers that it was a very hard time for them and eventually led to her dropping out at class 8.

When her mother recovered, she brought all the siblings to Suva, but they all had to find work to support the family. Mili found work in restaurants and later at bars, which is where she started lifting. She lifted heavy cartons, 18 gallon kegs, large gas bottles and crates without any help. But it wasn’t until 1997 that she tried out powerlifting.

Once she tried it, she was hooked. Every weekday she made her way to the gym – even if she had to walk 7 to 8 km, just to train for 3 hours. Her love for the sport grew even more when she made the national team to represent Fiji at the Oceania Championship in Napier, New Zealand in 1998.

It was her first tournament and she cried when she won a bronze medal. “I never looked back, I just focused because I knew I was on the right track. And I did my best because no one knows me. People only know me when I compete”, said Mili.

From there Mili went on to win more competitions and even scooped up 7 Gold medals at the 2004 Asia/Oceania Powerlifting Championship in Melbourne, Australia, where she set 3 world records.

Mili is very modest in her achievements, but her dedication to the sport is second to none. Still today she continues with her training and ignores those that discourage her because of her age. All she says to them is, “I can still do it, watch me.” She has proven time and time again that her age hasn’t affected her strength and that she will keep competing. She is a true inspiration to others in the sport and even has apprentices that she helps train. Her journey is far from over as she wants to compete at the World Classic Powerlifting Championship in Canada next year, where she hopes she can break her own world record. Mili’s story and her dedication proves that if you put your mind to it, you can achieve.

Mili’s Apprentices:

Mili’s dedication to powerlifting doesn’t stop with her. She also helps others who are in the sport. She puts their needs before her own and helps them to grow to their full potential.

“Some of the young ones didn’t expect that I could lift, but when they saw me they started to say one day I want to be like you,” Mili laughed. She always encourages young people who want to learn the sport. She uses herself as an example to push them further and help them to believe in themselves.

In 2015, Mili first took on apprentices. It started from one person asking her for help and then more and more came. She took them under her wing and tried to help them in any way she could.

Every day Mili gets to the gym around 5pm to wait for “her young people”. She helps them with their training and then when they’re finished, she does her own training.

Mili’s selfless act is done out of pure love for the sport. “I want to teach all I know and give back to the young ones. One day, I won’t be here and they will have to run the powerlifting.”

Her apprentices or ‘young people’ as she likes to call them, say that Mili gives off a ‘motherly energy’ and doesn’t just help them with their training, she also counsels them on their day-to-day struggles in life and always tells them “if you can lift this heavy weight, you can deal with any obstacle.”

Attending powerlifting tournaments costs a lot of money and Mili has given up her spot on the team a few times to let her younger apprentices compete. One of them, Sainimere Abariga, has been with Mili since class 7 and won silver in her powerlifting category at the Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea, 2015.

Mili and her apprentices are part of the Fitness Powerlifting Club and they fundraise as much as they can to try and get as many powerlifters as possible into each major event. They train every day and make many sacrifices to better their performances.

Many of Mili’s apprentices are competing this year and she is supporting them in every way she can either through training, coaching, counselling or fundraising assistance. Her belief in her team and her hopes for the sport is inspiring and motivational to those that know her and now to those that know her story.

Seinimili is clear on how she sees the future of her sport. “I want to keep on going till someone can take over and do better than me.”