Commitment and discipline.
These two words are synonymous with the life of Tuaopepe Asiata Jerry Wallwork, from Gagaifo Lefaga, Satupa’itea, Lano and Vaoala.
A weightlifting coach, businessman and family man, Tuaopepe’s daily schedule might seem like an over filled plate.
His everyday life basically revolves around his passion – weightlifting - leaving the weekends as time for his family.
“It’s very hard, as I’ve already mentioned my day starts at 3am or 4am when I am up. By 5am I’m down at the gym,” he said.
“I’m the first one there and the last one to leave after training from 4:30am to 7am. I come to work and then after work I have to go to our training at 5:30pm and I leave training at 8:30pm or 9pm to go home,” he shared with the Samoa Observer.
Following on his father’s footsteps, who was also a former weightlifting champion and a former weightlifting and rugby coach, Tuaopepe, 13 years old at the time, saw an opportunity of growing his potential to give back to Samoa.
“I think there is no secret. I learned from my father the discipline and the commitment and the hard work required to reach results when I was a young boy,” he said.
“I watched my father as he trained when I was six years old and as I grew older, I wanted to do it and I trained myself to get physically strong for other sports, for rugby, rugby league and it was just in my blood all the way.
“I think there’s a lot of commitment involved, a lot of sacrifices that I’ve made on my side and also from everybody on the team.
“It’s just part and parcel of our team and how we produce the results and we have done it now for 20 years.”
Being the coach who has helped the weightlifting team win medals, including the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games where they won a Bronze and Silver medal, three Gold medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi and the recent one being two Gold and Silver medals at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, has not been an easy ride for him.
“It wasn’t easy, it’s been a hard role all the way right up to now, it’s been hard. It’s been a struggle and with limited resources and limited funding, we still manage to drive on.”
As an enthusiastic wrestler, competing for Samoa in international events at one stage of his life, Tuaopepe had to choose between wrestling and weightlifting.
“You can’t do both as a competitor, you have to make a choice, and then as an administrator and as a coach, you cannot do both and I saw more potential in weightlifting in Samoa, than wrestling.
“Wrestling was not pursued because you need sparring partners, world class and we don’t have that in this region and we don’t have that in Samoa.
“Weightlifting you can train the person with just the weights. As long as you have the weights, you can train someone to become a champion.
“Wrestling you can’t train by yourself, you need to spar just like boxing, boxers need to spar with good boxers, so I chose to go weightlifting and made the commitment.”
A former weightlifter himself winning Gold medals in the South Pacific Games and Oceania Championship, he opted to take up the weightlifting coaching career in 1998 and he still continues.
“Right up until now in 2018, I’m getting close to the time to retire, and I’m still taking my kids to reach their goals which is to win medals at Olympic Games and World Championships.
“These lifters I have now, I have made a commitment to them and they have made a commitment to me to try and reach the Olympic Games, and win a medal and I think that will be the top of what we can do.”
Tuaopepe has three words for his team every training session.
“Sometimes the lifters get tired of hearing these three words I tell them.
“The first thing I say to them is to maintain their discipline every day. Discipline is the word that I am very strong on and I use and I lead by example in discipline. I tell them to be punctual all the time.
“The second thing I say to them is hard work. There’s no secret. The secret is hard training every day and more training and just pushing them beyond their limits.
“And the last thing I say to them is never say die, never give up, no matter what. Know how to compete without any fear of giving up.
“Those are the three things that I have instilled in my team to live by and the goal that we live by. It has taken them through and hopefully will take us through the next level.”
The challenges Tuaopepe faced through the years, including funding and proper facilities, wouldn’t have been conquered without the support of his family, his wife and four children, including the Samoa Weightlifting Federation.