The failure of the Manu Samoa Sevens to qualify for the Olympics has added more pressure on the shoulders of two weightlifters to bring home some great news from Rio.
Samoa has yet to win an Olympic medal and with rugby back in the frame, all hopes were on the boys in blue to create history for Samoa.
S.A.S.N.O.C President Fepulea’i Patrick Fepulea’i did not mince words yesterday during the announcement of the eight-member Team Samoa who will fly the flag at the Rio Olympic Games next month.
The team was revealed during an official announcement at the Samoa Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (S.A.S.N.O.C.) Office at Tuana’imato.
The team includes two track and field athletes, two swimmers, two weightlifters and representatives from judo and kayaking.
The announcement was made by Fepulea’i who was accompanied by the Vice President Aualiitia Fa’afouina Milford and S.A.S.N.O.C official Tagifano So’onalole. Asked about their medal chances, President Fepulea’i was realistic. “Our position in the Olympics is clear… we have yet to win a medal of any kind,” he said. “Whether it’s bronze, silver or gold; even when it comes to Fiji who is a bigger island than ours, they too have yet to win a medal of any colour at the Olympics.
“The Olympic level is very tough; I think only Tonga has won a silver medal in boxing, they are the only country in the Pacific apart from Australia and New Zealand to win a medal.
“We see this as an opportunity to send our athletes to compete with the best and gain experience; it’s good for exposure.
“It’s a pity that our Sevens boys did not qualify for the Olympics because we had the biggest chance to win a medal through them.
“If we look at all the teams in the Sevens, there is not one team there that we haven’t beaten… we have beaten them all. “Our only strengths are Weightlifting and Sevens so now it’s just down to Weightlifting who has the best chance; so hopefully Mary and Nevo will bring us a medal this time round.”
Aualiitia, who is also the Chef-de-mission, said the Team will arrive in Rio at different times depending on their competition schedules.
“There are a few sports like Judo who need to go travel first so they will make their way ahead of every one else,” he said.
According to Auali’itia, Team Samoa consists of the best athletes from Samoa and overseas. “We have quite a few athletes who are based overseas but their parents are Samoan. A few of them have represented us during the Commonwealth and the Pacific games.
“An example are our athletics reps Alexander Melei Rose and Jeremy Raponi Dodson.” The Chef de mission said the Olympics is the pinnacle of all sporting competition.
“Sending our athletes to the Olympics will be really good for their experience,” he said. “We do have the Pacific Games, Mini Games and Commonwealth Games which really helps with building our athletes but this is a different level.
“A lot of our athletes are very young, but they have prepared well.”
1. Jeremy Dodson – 200m Sprint (Male)
2. Alexander Melei Rose – Discus Throw (Male)
Officials – Tuala Tommy Stancil, Ah Chong Sam Chong
Aquatics – Swimming
1. Evelina Afoa – 100m backstroke (Female)
2. Brandon Schuster – 200m freestyle (Male)
Official – Suzie Schuster
Canoe – Kayak
1. Anne Crane – Women’s k1 200m & 500m (Female)
Official – Richard Forbes
1. Derek Sua- 100+kg (Male)
Official – Eguchi Fubuki
1. Mary Opeloge – 75kg (Female)
2. Vaipava Nevo Ioane – 62kg (Male)
Officials – Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork, Fa’avae Faauliuli
Chef de Mission – Aualiitia Faafouina Milford
General Team Manager and Admin – Tagifano Dengue So’onalole
Team Doctor – Dr. Aird Hill Pai Enosa
Team Masseuse – Kosetatino Manase