The woman who is most likely to become Samoa’s first Olympic medalist, Ele Opeloge, is unlikely to be able to travel to Samoa to accept her medal when it becomes official.
This was confirmed by the President of the Samoa Weightlifting Federation Tuaopepe Asiata Wallwork. This means she is also not able to attend the Leadership Samoa Sports Awards this weekend. “We tried so hard for Ele to come over but the reason is her visa application in New Zealand,” he said.
“Ele and her family are applying for a permanent resident’s visa and it’s almost done. The New Zealand Sports Council is working to get this done.”
“They have advised us that if she does come, she might not be able to go back because at the moment, their papers are still being processed.”
“So her situation is so sensitive and she decided that she will stay and hopefully by January or the beginning of February, it will be done.”
The President said this means if the medal and confirmation arrives in next few weeks, it might have to be presented in New Zealand.
“That’s as far as I know and what I’ve been told from the people who are processing her papers and the club that she is training under and her coach. But I told Ele that we’d love to have her here right now for the Samoa Games and also for the Sports Awards because she is also getting an award.”
Tuaopepe said it’s difficult decision for Ele. “I cannot blame her as well because she is looking at what’s best for her and her family. They are doing well there in New Zealand.”
Tuaopepe said he is also unsure about Ele’s future plans.
“It was her decision to move to New Zealand so as of now, I’m not sure about Ele’s decision whether she will lift for Samoa or for New Zealand.”
“That’s out of our hands and it’s her decision. But I told her that the door will always be open for her but she has to decide because she is now living there.” Tuaopepe went on to say that following the latest results from I.O.C, Ele will be presented the silver medal.
“Like I said in the beginning the medal has been confirmed, it has already been confirmed that the Gold and Silver medalists had been tested positive,” he said.
“Now the I.O.C has to give three weeks to those that tested positive I don’t know for what reason but after that period of three weeks then the official announcement will come out.
“So now that one and a half weeks is gone so we are looking at before Christmas for the official announcement but I am coming out now to say that Ele is a silver medallist.
“But if the medal does get presented in New Zealand then I will be going and so as the President of S.A.S.N.O.C but it would also be nice if anyone from the government can go to this.”