“He’s just a tall, big shy kid.”
That’s how Barbara Masoe described her son, Kelvin Tu’iala Masoe, the man dubbed as 'Samoa’s new King of the Track' who dominated the sprint events during the Champ of Champs athletics competition last week.
The Vaiola College sprinter surprised the nation, snatching two gold medals during the meet. In doing so, he broke the 100m and 200m records.
Kelvin set a new 100-metre record with a time of 10.46seconds overcoming a record set by a Leulumoega Fou College sprinter in 2014. Organisers could not be certain about previous records saying their records only go back to 2014.
For Kelvin, he is not new to the spotlight. He is one of the heroes from Samoa U18's winning team at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Bahamas.
The young man is the eldest of five children of Tu’ugafala Masoe and Babara Masoe of Satuiatua, Asau and Samauga Savai’i.
Born on 4 March 1999, he grew up with his family in Satuiatua.
“This guy is my right hand when it comes to chores, cooking and baby-sitting his young siblings of one younger brother, and three little sisters,” his proud mother told the Samoa Observer.
“To us, we just want to praise God for using our kid’s talents to serve his name, and we are so proud of his achievements so far."
“When he was a small boy, he always loves sports. We send him to the shop and trust me, he won’t be walking because he’ll be running, I guess I could say that sports is in his blood.”
Kelvin started primary school at Gagaimalae Primary in Satuiatua. He then went to Palauli Sisifo College for Year 9 to Year 11.
“We saw how quickly our son had grown,” she said. “He wanted to stay home and help out straight away but we know we as parents have to push him further because we saw and believed in him. We knew he has talents through sports, it was just a matter of encouraging him to be in school.”
That’s where the move to Vaiola College was born.
“When he was at Palauli Sisifo, his grandfather was very sick and his interest in school started to fade. He missed school a lot, just so he can make it to the plantation to provide for us, and our sick grandfather.”
“Then my brother Tu’iala came from the U.S. and saw this, he was overwhelmed and felt sorry for him, so he told him he will pay for him to go Vaiola College and pursue his studies there.”
Looking back now, Mrs. Masoe reckons the move was orchestrated by God.
“At first it was hard because it was really far from here,” she said. “But in the end, we pushed him hard and encouraged him to make use of the opportunity he has to pursue all the sports he’s good at, and it worked.”
Last year Kelvin’s first year.
“I asked the teachers to let him repeat year 11 as he wasn’t serious in year 11 in the previous year at Palauli Sisifo College,” she said.
“To us, even though we are proud of him and his achievements, it doesn’t mean we should stop talking to him as our young boy about his values, respect and about his relationship with God.”
At home, Kelvin hasn’t changed at all.
He still does the chores, fetches firewood and goes to the plantation.
“It’s the same old Kelvin. We just want to make sure he continues to strive for the best, and be able to serve his God, country and his people in the right way.”
So what is the secret to his success?
“I think the real secret is respect for others, honoring God, and remembering his identity and heritage. This is the same message we gave him before he set off for Bahamas.”