It’s been a journey to remember.
But the journey is not over yet for 2008 Olympic Silver medalist, Ele Opeloge.
This is what she said when the Samoa Observer contacted Ele in New Zealand.
Samoa’s most successful athlete does not want to be counted out just yet.
“For now, I’m having a break, I have to settle my family first here in New Zealand,” she said.
“But I’m not retired, I only need time with my family, then I’ll be back in the arena again.”
Ele said she is looking forward to receiving her medal.
But she was in tears about the overwhelming support she has so far received. This includes the establishment of the Samoa Observer Ele’s Fund.
“I was told by Tuaopepe last weekend about the fundraising for me,” she said.
“I didn’t say a word but I felt so overcome with emotions. I thanked God for the Samoa Observer and those people who have helped in setting up this fund raising for me,” she said in tears.
“I just don’t know how to say thank you, only God knows my heart.
“After talking to Tuaopepe, I was crying knowing that there are true hearts out there that support me, and have carried me all those times when I was in that arena, and even now; not just in those times.
“Samoa Observer, I thank God for you, fa’afetai i la outou titi faitama.
“To be honest, I was speechless and shocked.
“I cried as well when I left my country in 2014. I thought to myself, ‘All right, that is it for me and my family.’
“I didn’t know that there are people out there who are still looking up to me and see the best in me even though I had left and was out of the arena.
“Thanks to Gatoaiatele Savea, Muliaga Jean and everyone. I know that this isn’t easy for a daily newspaper to run such a fundraising especially (adding another burden on the busy lifestyle of the paper every day), but you have sacrificed your time for me - I don’t know who I am ... but thank you.
On learning last year that she would be awarded the Olympic Silver medal, Ele said again she was stunned.
“You know when you’re out of words, then you express yourself through tears; and that was me when I was first told about it.
“I cried tears of thanks, tears for answered prayers, that the truth has finally been revealed; especially because this is the first time that Samoa has been recorded in the Olympic records in the world.
In her final lift, she faced immense pressure.
“It’s kind of a headache when I think about it, but when I lifted, the crowd was cheering and you know that kind of loud cheer from the crowd, especially seeing this was my first time hearing that kind of applause, it really hit me. I was shaken then and that’s when the barbell fell out of my hands.
Post-Beijing Olympics in 2008, Ele said it was so disappointing, but that she just had to accept it.
As for what lies ahead, Ele said, “I think, I’m still in there, I think I’m at another new stage in the world of weightlifting, but our plans may not be God’s plans. And that’s what I’m doing now, trusting in His plans that he has for me in His own time.
“I think I’ll be back sometime soon, but not right now. To me, I’m still young and I’m still able. So you’ll be seeing me soon,” she promised.
And for the best news of all for sports fans, “I’ll be back in the country in the next three weeks with my family.”