Samoa’s glowing Pacific Games success; future of sports and China

Time sure flies. It seems like two weeks has just whisked by that one could have missed it with a blink. Which is how it has been in Samoa.

So much fun, so much excitement, the camaraderie, drama, suspense and the amazing atmosphere of the Pacific Games has taken over everyone it almost feels like no one wants this moment to end.

Alas all great things come to an end. And as we are moments away from when Samoa will officially bring down the curtains on this edition of the Pacific’s version of the Olympics, we want to say it has been an absolute pleasure bringing you the stories of this great sporting spectacle during the past two weeks.

There are too many wonderful memories to recall them all.

Besides there are not enough space on this edition of your newspaper to detail them one by one. Suffice to say, each and everyone will have a story to tell. From officials, supporters to athletes, there will be certain moments they will remember.

For Samoan sports, looking at the results that have come through during the past two weeks, it is comforting to know we are heading the right direction.

As of last night, Samoa was in third place on the medal tally with 36 gold, 34 silver and 39 bronze medals for a total haul of 109 medals.

Folks, this is something to be mighty proud of. Indeed, it is an impressive result by any assessment given the smallness in our population and the odds we face against some of the bigger countries in the Pacific including Papua New Guinea, Fiji and others.

The truth is that there is a lot to celebrate. We’ve seen how our sportsmen and women have risen to the challenge during the past two weeks.

With the country getting behind the rallying call from our national leaders for everyone to put their best foot forward for the games, the athletes needed to do their part and they did.

Many of them came excruciatingly close to golden moments. Some were very unlucky and some just got beaten by better opponents.

But that’s the nature of sports; you win some, you lose some. Tomorrow is another day.

Which is perhaps the most exciting aspect of this Pacific Games for Samoa. Judging from the results and what has been unearthed during this competition, it feels like Samoa has turned a new leaf.

During the past two weeks, we have seen the rise of so many young stars throughout different sports. Many of these young men and women have come from sports and venues where we would not normally expect to hear the Samoan national anthem ring out loud and proud among our Pacific peers.

How can we forget the exploits of our swimmers, archery team, sailors, lawn bowling, shooting, cricketers and more. Samoa is not known as a traditional powerhouse in these particular sports.

But here we are in 2019 and young children of this country will be looking at new heroes, the ones who raised this country’s flag and made them proud.

Even more impressive is the continuing dominance of traditional powerhouse sports for Samoa like weightlifting, powerlifting and boxing.

What about that performance in Savai’i yesterday where seven Samoan finalists won all their bouts? Absolutely magnificent. Are we seeing boxing turning over a new leaf too after a few disappointing years?

The fact is that during these games, we have seen the rise of a new generation of sports stars for Samoa. Names like Walter, Stickland, Schuster, Masoe, Cafferelli, the young Opeloges and many more of our young athletes will only go on to become household names in the future.

The achievements in this Pacific Games, especially for these young athletes, is the beginning of a new era in Samoan sports. China’s assistance in training many of them in the lead up to the Games cannot be denied. It must be acknowledged.

But Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi must now think of the next steps required to hone these young talents so that they can only get better.

One way of doing that is to set up a Professional Sports Development Institute to give them all the help they need to maximize and truly reach their potential.

It’s not a small undertaking but it is worth considering especially on the back of what we have seen in Samoa during the past two weeks.

That could be the next biggest thing Samoa can ask for from China.

What do you think?

Have a wonderful weekend Samoa, God bless!

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