Pacific Games gold medallists up for monetary gifts

Gold medallists from the Pacific Games in July will receive monetary rewards.

The decision was confirmed by Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, who said Cabinet has approved it. The amount of money individual athletes are to receive could not be confirmed.

"Cabinet has already made a decision on Wednesday about the medallists and how much they receive," he said during his weekly media conference. "The decision is solely for the Pacific Games alone."

Tuilaepa also made it clear that although there were other competitions held simultaneously with the Pacific Games, the reward is only for Pacific Games gold medals.

"The Cabinet has advised the Minister to start planning and call upon those who won gold," he said. 

"Remember, it is only the gold medalists, and other medals do not qualify (for money)."

"Remember, it was in 2007 when I got silver; I didn’t get anything; that is why you should win [a] gold medal."

Samoa came third on the medal tally, ending the Games with 38 gold medals, 42 silver and 45 bronze medals.

The Prime Minister added that the money should help motivate the athletes but it must not be the only factor.

"This is amateur sports, versus professional sports," he said, "these are two things that should be separated.

"There’s a difference between sports you play for money and others you don’t, because of the sportsmanship and passion so that you earn medals for your country; instead of money. So whatever your country can give in return is enough."

The Prime Minister reiterated that the money is the Government's way to encourage athletes.

"What’s important is that you play for your country and to put your country on the map, make your name known; your parents and these are the blessings upon someone with the heart to serve and the passion to play."

A total of 502 athletes represented Samoa in the Pacific Games.

Fourty per cent of them were females. 

In the 2015 Pacific Games, Samoa was ranked fifth with only 17 gold medals, 23 silvers and 11 bronze medals, producing 51 gold medals altogether. 

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