Team Samoa home from Abu Dhabi with eight medals
The 17-member Samoa team has returned from the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi with three gold, four silver and one bronze.
Sponsored by telecommunications company Digicel, the athletes took part in four sporting events ranging from bocce to long jump, and a fourth place win for the Women’s Unified football team.
In a welcome home reception in the Government Building Lobby, President of Special Olympics Samoa Leta’a Daniel Devoe said Samoa is very pleased with the outcome of the World Games, and has plans to do even better in the 2023 World Games in Germany.
“It’s all about the inclusion revolution we’re pushing for,” Leta’a said.
“I think this is probably the biggest movement in the world when it comes to sports.”
Two gold medals were won by bocce players Telefoni Vincent Touli and Suitupe Kevin Faafua. Samoa brought home two long jump medals too, thanks to first place Puka Faautauta, and second Olo Tofilau.
Powerlifter Falefa'aea Vaasili won silver for his dead-lifting performance, as well as fourth place in the squats, benchpress and combined challenges.
Olivaseigafo Mavaega won silver in the 200 metre run, closely followed by his compatriot Ulafala Faletuai bring home bronze.
The football team and their unified partners are Faaolo Faitala, Litia Tito Taaloga, Rosita Simone, Semeatu Lemana, Silia Afele Ationo, Sulupoo Pasaleli, Talai Ieremia and Victoria Usoalii Toleafoa.
“The competition is getting tough,” Leta’a said. With over 7,000 athletes from 190 countries, Team Samoa won’t be resting on their laurels, but starting now to prepare for Germany’s games in 2023.
Digicel sponsored the team T$60,000 towards their journey, and pledged an additional $40,000 for 12 months of development for the team. Leta’a wants Digicel users to donate using their devices, even just one tala a year until 2023.
“There are over 80,000 Digicel mobile phones. If each of those people contribute one tala that’s 80,000 a year. It will be more than we need to go to Germany,” he said.
Digicel Chairman Pepe Christian Fruean said the team’s success was a testament to the athlete’s national price and commitment.
“Special needs athletes have the same right to compete and strive for sporting glory, just like anyone else,” he said.
“We must continue to support and encourage our special needs community to participate and continue to improve, so that we can do even better and bring home more gold in future games.”