The fact that weightlifting just about cleaned up all the awards during S.A.S.N.O.C’s Sports Awards on Saturday night was hardly surprising.
With the exception of a couple of categories where athletes from other sports would perhaps feel hard done by that they missed out given the fact they are just as deserving of recognition, there is no doubt that the weightlifting fraternity in Samoa deserves all the success that came their way that evening.
Indeed, there was plenty to celebrate for the sport.
You see, when we talk about weightlifting in Samoa, the Wallwork family has been a pillar of the sport.
Their contribution has been immense over the years. And it could not have been more fitting therefore to honour a man referred to as the father of Weightlifting, Seiuli Paul Wallwork, by welcoming him as one of two inductees into S.A.S.N.O.C’s Hall of Fame.
There was another generation of the Wallwork family recognized for years of achievements, blood, sweat and tears. Seiuli’s son, former champion and long-time coach, Tuaopepe Jerry, who was also named the Coach of the Year.
And then there were the weightlifters who collected the bulk of the awards including Samoa’s Supreme Athlete and Sportswoman of the Year, Mary Opeloge.
The award was icing on the cake for a sport that has had to overcome extremely difficult circumstances to still allow their athletes to compete against the best in the world.
The thing about weightlifting – and this is why we say they are deserving of their successes – is that they have perhaps been the most consistent sport in Samoa, in terms of achievements and successes.
Tuaopepe and his athletes constantly bring home the medals from regional, international and other global competition. Surely they must be doing something right, something that should be emulated by other sports.
As we said before Saturday night, it has been a long time between Sports Awards. Credit must be given to S.A.S.N.O.C for the decision to revive the Awards this year. We hope we will not have to wait another eight years for the next Awards.
And why are these awards important?
Well, in the words of Prime Minister Tuilaepa, they provide an incentive not just for athletes but also administrators and sporting bodies to strive for the best.
The sheer joy on the faces of the award winners and the tears when they reflected upon the struggles, battles and barriers they have had to overcome to be where they are today was priceless.
Speaking of battles and barriers, it must be said that the story of the Samoa Mixed Touch Team, which won the Team of the Year Award, is an amazing one. Without a dedicated field for this sport, the administrators must be congratulated wholeheartedly for overcoming the odds to be where they are today.
On the podium to receive the award, Filoi Eneliko made a heartfelt plea to the government to allocate a field for them. We couldn’t agree more with her.
It goes without saying that if we want the best results; we’ve got to provide an atmosphere that is conducive for athletes and sports bodies to be able to that.
An integral part of that is giving them the basic facilities to allow them to develop and nurture our future champions.
There is absolutely no doubt that there is plenty of quality sporting potential in Samoa today. Unfortunately in the world we live in, potential alone is not enough.
The difference between contenders and pretenders comes down to the overall package. It’s about athletes being totally taken care of on and off the field.
Having said that, it’s true that the local sporting fraternity has been fragmented and has had some problems over the years. But as far as recognition of excellence on and off the field, Saturday night was a great start.
Sure it was not without challenges but we can only get better. Congratulations to all the winners as well as the nominees.
Have a productive Tuesday Samoa, God bless!