Samoa’s contribution to the Paralympics

By Mathias Huckert ,

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REPRESENTING SAMOA IN THE PARALYMPICS: Maggie Kolopa Aiono will throw the discus in Rio de Janeiro for Samoa.

REPRESENTING SAMOA IN THE PARALYMPICS: Maggie Kolopa Aiono will throw the discus in Rio de Janeiro for Samoa. (Photo: Mathias Huckert)

The Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro might be over, but with the completion of one tournament, another one is about to start on the 7th of September.

With the Paralympic Games, the whole world is raising awareness for people with special needs from all areas of our planet.

Samoa’s contribution to this event can be found in the Olympic sport of discus. 

Maggie Kolopa Aiono from the village of Fasitoo-uta will represent her country in the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. Anyone who meets Maggie for the first time might not be able to tell that she has a disability.

But in 1994, the 26-year old woman was involved in a car accident. This changed her life forever: “I was hit by a car and I lost my left foot”, she explained to the Samoa Observer.

Since then, Maggie has been wearing a prosthetic leg. But throughout her life, she has grown strong and she has learnt to adapt herself toher disability, leading a life that shows how disciplined she is. At the moment, Maggie Aiono is employed at Tuala Law Firm in Apia.

Even though Maggie already has achieved a lot in her life, there was still that urge to do more.Just recently, the young woman satisfied these demands – with the help of sports in her life.

Before Maggie became a discus thrower, she tried her best in another kind of sport that, which is closely related to the one that would finally point her the way to Rio de Janeiro. It all started with shot put. 

“I started out with doing shot put, but just two months ago, I tried out discus throwing for the first time. I liked it immediately and my coaches encouraged me to keep it up”, Maggie said.

What happened afterwards, seems like the dream of every athlete: “Maggie was able to receive a wildcard from the Paralympic Committee and therefore will represent Samoa in the games”, said Maylani Ah Hoy, who, along with Harry Keil trained the athlete for the final day of competition in Brazil for the last two months. 

“She is going well prepared to Rio. She trained a lot during the last eight weeks, but in the end, the best thing for her will be that she will experience the games as one of the athletes. That’s all that matters”.

The wildcard that made this experience for Maggie even possible in the first place, also includes the funding for all travel expenses. 

Furthermore, the Paralympic Committee provides something else to the disabled athlete who will leave Samoa this Saturday for the Paralympic Games: a prosthesis specially made for the competition.

“First we will fly to Utah in the United States where I will receive a new prosthetic leg for walking and another one for the discus throwing and then we will go to Brazil”, Maggie Aiono told.

This special gift is also something the athlete is a bit worried about concerning the process of her big day at the Paralympics: “I think that it is something I will have to get used to. But I’ll try my best and will train as much as possible with my prosthesis to make sure that I am well prepared for the tournament”.

As far as expectations go for the Paralympic Games, she sticks to the old saying that it is the taking part that counts. 

“It’s just such a big event, and I feel so honoured to be chosen for this”, she explained just before her departure.

As a representative of her home country in such a splendid event as the 2016 Paralympics, Maggie’s family is indeed proud of the athlete. “My mom wishes me the best for the games and she feels really proud but at the same time, she already told me that she will miss me when I’m so far away from home”.

Being far from home is in fact never an easy thing to cope with, especially if someone, just like Maggie, never has been that far away from her home country.

Therefore, she is glad to have her two coaches by her side. “They have supported me a lot in the past and without them, I would not fly to Rio. I also thank the Paralympic Committee because they support me in so many ways”, she stated.

With athletes like Maggie, the spirit of the Olympic Games and the creed that with just enough discipline and effort, everything is possible lives on in each and every one of us – no matter if someone is different in any way.

 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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