The President of Samoa Athletics Incorporated, Tuala Tommy Stancil, has put an end to questions over whether a promising New Zealand-based Samoan athlete, Kasandra Salamasina Le Tafa’ifa Vegas, could make the Olympics.
“She is not qualified for the Hammer throw,” Tuala told the Samoa Observer.
“The only two who have qualified for the Olympics are the two athletes that are based in the United States. As for Kasandra, she is not qualified and that‘s it, that’s the truth.”
Tuala was contacted for a comment following a story in the Weekend Observer where the young woman’s coach, Shaka Sola, pushed her claim for an Olympic spot.
“She reigns as the new National record holder in women’s hammer after she broke the record twice held by her predecessor, Margaret Satupai for close to ten years,” Sola said.
“And her performance has been consistent and improving having medaled for Samoa in the women’s hammer, shot put and javelin since the Oceania Championships in 2014 in the Cook Islands, 2015 in Cairns Australia, 2015 Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea and 2016 in Papaeete, Tahiti.
“She was handpicked into Samoa’s Athletic Elite Training Squad for four years now and her results have been very impressive.”
In preparations for the Olympics, Kasandra has been competing in New Zealand national competitions.
“And early this year as part of her training program for Rio, Kasandra is in Portland Oregon, U.S.A. where she set Samoa’s new national record in the women’s hammer throw while competing in the U.S.A. Arizona Association State Championships,” said Sola.
“Kasandra is currently the top female thrower in Samoa and the region and without a doubt her performance speaks volumes. As the only female thrower in the country, Kasandra has dedicated herself for many years to the sport and has proven through her performances that she has the potential to medal for Samoa.”
But President Tuala maintains that the athlete has not met the qualification mark.
“Why would we stop her from representing Samoa in the Olympics if she was qualified?” Tuala said.
“We would love to have a representative of Samoa in the hammer throw if she was qualified but sadly she is not.
“The truth is in order for a hammer thrower to qualify for the Olympics they have to throw a 74meters, but Kasandra only threw a 54meters.
“We have already explained to her, the President of S.A.S.N.O.C. explained to her that she is not qualified for the hammer throw and that’s it.
“It’s been two weeks since that case has been closed but I don’t know what they are pushing for but that’s the truth, she is not qualified for Rio.”
The President also clarified that Kasandra did not win gold in P.N.G. during the Pacific Games in 2015. She won a bronze medal instead.
“We have already talked and we explained to them everything and the reasons and they agreed. Now it is in the paper again so we don’t know what they are pushing for.”
Samoa’s Athletics team at the Rio Olympics is made up of two male athletes. They are 200m sprinter, Jeremy Dodson and discus thrower, Alex Melei Rose. They will be accompanied by two officials, Tuala Ah Chong and Sam Chong.