Time sure flies. It was only four years ago that Usain Bolt bolted onto the headlines and in our living rooms with pictures of the fastest man in the world beamed all over the globe for people to see.
We’ve hardly had a breather and the Olympic Games is upon us already. After years, months, weeks and days of waiting, the 2016 Rio Olympics is here and the excitement is building. As this piece was being compiled, members of Team Samoa were slowly making their way to Brazil for the event.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi gave the country’s blessings, encouraging them to do their best and to break Samoa’s medal drought.
“This competition will not be easy and it has never been easy,” he said.“It is different from all the other competitions that you have participated in and it is much harder than all of those other competitions held in the South Pacific.
“The truth is we have come to this point and we still haven’t won any medals ever since we participated in the Olympics and that shows how tough these competitions are.”
Tuilaepa is correct. And whether that is likely to change this year, we don’t know. Most unlikely given the failure of the Manu Samoa Sevens to qualify. You see, the only real chance of Samoa winning a medal were with the Sevens.
The sad part is that Samoa might never get this chance again because the teams in the Sevens programme are only going to get stronger as bigger nations pump more funding into their Sevens programme. Samoa simply doesn’t have the money nor the resources to compete. Which will make things doubly harder for us.
Now back to Tuilaepa, he challenged the sporting fraternity, especially coaches to rise up.
“The challenge is for coaches to train the athletes harder,” he said. “Because we should be a hundred percent sure whether we will get medals or not even before we go to these competitions.”
Well he’s got a point.
But there is a lot more to the equation than the coaches and atheltes. It involves administrators putting athletes first, something that hasn’t always happened in this country.
The truth is that looking at the team this year, it’s hard to say for certain that they will finally break that medal drought.
What we do know is that it’s an exciting time for members of the Team and their families.
Without a doubt, the opening ceremony will be a very proud moment for them.
And why not?
The Olympics is the world’s biggest sporting event. It’s the stuff of dreams.
But the road to get there is not one for the faint hearted.
Each and every athlete who is marching into that stadium lives to tell a story of the battles, struggles and tears they have had to overcome to get there.
It goes without saying that it is the ultimate dream for any athlete to represent their country on such a stage.
And for all the Samoans there, they have earned their places.
We wish them all the best. Medals or no medals, all we ask is that they give it their all. From the comfort of our homes in Samoa, we will be cheering for you all the way.
Away from the Samoans in Rio, we will enjoy seeing the world’s best athletes in action over the next two weeks.
It’s going to be a massive celebration of sporting excellence and that’s what the Olympics are about. It is about a celebration sporting achievements and you don’t need to be from a particular country to appreciate sporting excellence.
Have a wonderful weekend and Go Team Samoa!