It’s high time that Samoa invests more on its national weightlifting team and gives it the recognition it deserves.
The view is shared by National Weightlifting Team Head Coach, Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork, in an interview with the Sunday Samoan.
“I think the number one challenge is funding,” he said.
“We’ve had that right from the start, very limited funding.
“To do at the level where we are at now, Commonwealth Gold medalists, Olympic medalists, you really need these athletes to be fully funded.
“Funded in everything meaning they are given proper food plan, dietary, everything, allowance where they can train fulltime, equipment to be provided, supplements to be provided, the physiotherapist, medical treatment which we don’t have access to.
“So all that, we are lacking all that, but we are still doing it the hard way like the bush men way we call it.”
Tuaopepe also mentioned the challenges they have faced over the years with lack of proper facilities and equipment.
“We used to train under the trees and under the tents back 20 years ago. We actually won a medal at the Commonwealth Games from training outside under a tent,” he said.
“We won a bronze in 2002 in the Manchester Commonwealth Games and Silver, and that’s from training out in a tent with one bar bell, and a set with everyone taking turns.
“We had about a team of 10 that trained under a tent, with one platform under old plywood, and we had struggled right along until recently I think in the past 10 years, we were able to get a gym to train in and proper equipment.
“The South Pacific Games in 2007 that’s where our equipment came from up to now, but we are still struggling with funding. But we have been successful up to now.
“And it wasn’t easy it’s been hard role all the way right up to now it’s been hard, it’s been a struggle and limited resources and limited funding but we still manage to drive on.”
When asked on what could be the possible solution, Tuaopepe pointed to more funding.
“It comes down to funding. It has to be a funded programme where we can have access to all these services to fully look after the athlete at a professional level, which can be done overseas in New Zealand and Australia and everywhere else that they have access to everything.
“I take for example, at the Commonwealth Games, we were just lucky our super heavyweight, who won a Silver medal very unlucky not to win Gold, had a serious injury to his knee. He’s now in Gold Coast getting an operation done by highly specialised orthopedic surgeons.
“If it was here we will be in a lot of trouble. To have an operation like that to make sure he comes back to full 100 percent training mode, it can only be done in overseas and we are very fortunate that he’s there.
“He’s covered by insurance and of course also covered by Commonwealth Games and we were able to get that operation done today as we speak.”
Given its success, it is only right that the weightlifting is given the same recognition as other sports in Samoa.
“Weightlifting is a very hard sport, hard to train for hard, to compete for. You by yourself on that platform standing in front of millions of people, it’s not easy,” Tuaopepe said.
“I don’t want to force or even want to make it a national sport, I just need the support from everybody. Support weightlifting and give it the same recognition that has been given to rugby in Samoa.
“Give Weightlifting recognition and the support financially. I think there should be more investment. It’s been proven. You can’t prove it anymore. It’s been proven over the past 10 years that weightlifting every time performs.
“And in any country, take Fiji for example, you perform and the people and the country will get behind you.
“New Zealand and Australia if that sport is producing results, like their swimming team, Australia is behind their Swimming team 110 percent. They have given everything to support to them.
“I just want the same kind of recognition here in Samoa so we can further achieve our goals, and the goal is for Samoa, for the country, the young people of Samoa, to win medals at world championships, and to win medals at the Olympic Games.”