They might be based in the United States of America but two athletes getting ready to fly Samoa’s flag at the Rio Olympics are mighty proud of their heritage.
In fact, for discus athlete, Alex Rose and sprinter, Jeremy Dodson, representing Samoa is all part of their journey to know their roots more.
The President of the Samoa Athletics Incorporated, Tuala Tommy Stancil, said he is delighted to be able to have the duo put their hands up for Samoa. Both men have already qualified.
The 26-year-old Rose was born in the United States but his father, who migrated to the United States when he was 19, hails from Malaemalu Falealili.
Rose has already represented Samoa at two World Championships, in 2013 and 2015. His personal best in discus is 63.23 metres (Naperville 2016).
Dodson’s father on the other hand hails from Malie.
He is a Samoan sprinter and competed in the 200 metres event at the 2011 and 2015 World Championships in Athletics in Daegu, South Korea and Beijing, China.
Dodson is a Bronze Medallist for the United States at Athletics at the 2011 Pan American Games – Men’s 4 × 100 metres relay.
He competed in the 200 metres at the2011 World Championships in Athletics – Men’s 200 metres for the United States in Daegu, South Korea.
“Alex Rose recently threw a 65-72meters in discus which qualified him for the Rio Olympic and also for the U.S team but he still insisted on coming to represent Samoa,” said Tuala.
“At the moment he is ranked number 8 in the world and he is working extremely hard in the States to prepare for the Olympics.”
Tuala said Dodson is also working hard and the athletes can hardly wait for Rio.
“Both athletes will be heading straight to the Olympics from the States to save money and I will be meeting them there,” said Tuala.
In the long run, Tuala said the goal is have locally based athletes qualify for these big competitions.
“The reality now is that we don’t have the facilities, we don’t have the coaching expertise, we don’t have the competition level which is a must and it is very important that we should have that,” he said.
“Whereas with these, two there are competitions every week and so that gives them the opportunity to build up their skills.
“[But] the one thing that I am thankful for is that these two have decided to represent Samoa and they have both qualified for the Olympics on their merits so that is very good.”
Tuala went on to say that this is something as the President of the Samoa Athletic Incorporated and the government of Samoa needs to look at.
“This is something that we are looking at in the future but it’s very hard because like I said we just don’t have the infrastructure to train our athletes for these kinds of competitions,” he said.
“Yes we have the infrastructure for Commonwealth level but not in the Olympic level.
“It is totally different at the Olympic level. This is he highest level in sports and for us as a small country this is another thing that we need to look at.
“We need to build up our infrastructure to the Olympic level because this is what happens when all the other countries are getting ready for Olympic us on the other hand don’t have athletes because we are just not on that level yet.
“In future I hope that we don’t have to go through this issue again because we need our local people to represent Samoa to other countries.
“So if these two hadn’t decided to represent Samoa we wouldn’t be able to have anyone for the Rio.
“And so I am very thankful for these two for deciding to represent Samoa in the Rio and hopefully we will be able to get medals from the event.”