Back with 20 gold medals and a fifth place finish at the recent Pacific Mini Games in Vanuatu, Team Samoa received a rousing welcome on Wednesday evening.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi was present during a ceremony organised by the Samoa Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (S.A.S.N.O.C.) to congratulate members of the team.
Held at Tuana’imato, the team’s General Manager, Tuala Matthew Vaea, said the occasion was a joyful one for athletes and their supporters.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa acknowledged the efforts of Team Samoa.
Samoa participated in 11 sports, including archery, athletics, basketball, beach volleyball, boxing, judo, para athletics, rugby 7s, table tennis, tennis and weightlifting.
Samoa was placed fifth on the overall standings at the end of the games. Samoa collected 43 medals, of which 20 are gold medals, 16 silver medals and seven bronze medals with a total of 43 medals altogether.
Tuilaepa praised the performance of the Team Samoa weightlifting team, after a tremendous effort in Vanuatu.
“This is one of the main sports that contributed most medals for Samoa, congratulations to the management and the players.”
Tuilaepa, in his humorous way, encouraged the Samoa Weightlifting team to start attracting fa’afafine to compete for Samoa team under the women’s category after the International Weightlifting Federation allowed New Zealand transgender athlete to compete.
Other gold medals for Samoa from the Vanuatu Mini Games were from boxing, athletics, men’s basketball team, tennis and rugby 7s.
“Team Samoa Boxing collected two gold medals; tennis collected two other gold medals as well, with the last three gold medals from rugby 7s, basketball and athletics (javelin).”
S.A.S.N.O.C. President, Fepulea’i Patrick Fepulea’i congratulated all the athletes and thanked Samoa for their support and prayers.
At the end, Tuilaepa challenged S.A.S.N.O.C. and officials about the need to win the South Pacific Games in 2019.
He emphasized that we should have more participants in every single sport in order to win medals.