With the Olympics Games in Rio and Samoa being far from any medal successes, the Prime Minister is hopeful and already looking ahead to the next Games.
He has also sent out a strong message to athletes and sports officials that attendance at the Games is not for learners but for real medal prospects who can show evidence to Cabinet that they have reached qualifying marks.
Tuilaepa said the Champs of Champs Athletics event will be used to target potential athletes for the Olympics.
“The athletes need to be identified and should be trained in the next four years to prepare for the Olympics in Japan.
“That is the bigger picture for them; to represent us in the next Olympics.”
“Starting from this year, the event will be used as an opportunity to select the athletes and train them for the next four years in order for them to have the skills and knowledge. At the moment, our competition is not really making any marks.”
As an example, he said one athlete was a champion in a field event in the Pacific.
But Tuilaepa pointed out that despite this, the athlete did not qualify.
“The distance that you should be able to throw to get a gold medal, is 80 meters,” he explained.
“The qualifying distance is 70 meters but the athlete’s throw was just 50 meters. This tells us that even though we want her to go, she doesn’t qualify.”
The Prime Minister continued by saying that similarlyin weightlifting, those who should go are only the ones who can reach the qualifying mark.
“If your best lift is 200 kilograms and the gold medal lift is 300 kilograms, then it’s clear that it would be a waste of time,” he said.
“Even today, these records are not presented before Cabinet for us to know who should and shouldn’t go.
“We still have that thinking that we should just go and ‘learn’ from there.
“We’ve been ‘learning’ for the past many years and the people that are enjoying the Games are the officials…they just want to go there and enjoy themselves.”
According to Tuilaepa it would be a shame if Samoa cannot participate in the Games but he stressed that even if just one athlete qualifies, that is more than enough.
He repeated that with the Champ of Champ events, it will be a great opportunity to select some of the future elite athletes.