Moments of glory and hard lessons

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 20 August 2016, 12:00AM

They say that every good thing must come to an end.

Well after two weeks of spectacular sporting contests, we will soon say goodbye to the 2016 Rio Olympics until another four years.

The curtain will fall on the world’s biggest sporting showpiece when the last medal is presented, signalling the beginning of a long party for athletes and officials on the streets of Rio. 

But why not? Especially for the ones who are returning home with medals.

We know Team Samoa has failed once more. Not that anybody would have held their breath in anticipation of a medal but apart from Ioane Nevo’s 8th place finish, the rest were pretty disappointing.

Sprinter Jeremy Dodson’s rant on his Facebook account, after failing to qualify for the 200m semi-final, perhaps summed it up quite well.

 “It’s so hard to hear “4 more years” because I said the same thing 4 years ago,” Dodson said. “I am embarrassed and disappointed in my performance because I am better than that, and everyone deserved to see it.”

Pity that. We wonder if we will ever get to see that and in which lifetime.

Keep in mind that Dodson changed allegiances so he could compete in the Olympics. He had once sprinted for the U.S. team. 

 “It is a blessing, and a burden to run for a smaller country because on one hand, you have the love from an enormous amount of people,” he said. 

“On the other, you have the whole country on your shoulders as you become the ambassador of a nation to the world. I am running for more than myself.

 “Everyone deserved the best of me, and that I failed to give. I am not calling for sympathy, but rather giving a statement of more to come. 

“I learned my lesson and am ready to move forward. I am tired of this heartbreak. I owe it to myself. I owe you all a show.”

Well, we cannot wait. The truth is that we’re pretty tired of all the excuses. And looking back at the history of our Olympic teams, there have been far too many excuses. Maybe to keep our sanity, it’s better not to take the excuses seriously.

Which is why it’s important that we rejoice with the athletes and the nations who are rejoicing and basking in the glory of their triumphs.

For today, tens of thousands will turn up at the venues at Rio to take their last glimpse of their idolised sporting stars. Elsewhere – including Samoa - billions will be glued to their television sets to catch the final moments of what has been a superb event thus far.

With television coverage of the games widely available, it’s been impossible to escape the Olympic fever. Quite frankly, we’ve been spoilt for choice with a smorgasbord of sporting action. Since day one, not a single day has gone by without a riveting moment that’s left a firm imprint in our minds about the greatness of some of the athletes we’ve seen.

But perhaps no single day was more defined than earlier this week when the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, bolted into the history books with his third consecutive Olympic gold medal in 100metres. 

As this piece was being compiled yesterday, Bolt had the opportunity to add another record, a gold in the 200m and the 4x100m relay.

“Somebody said I can become immortal,” Bolt said after the race. “Two more medals to go and I can sign off. Immortal.” 

What a man. Keep in mind, this is the same athlete who dominated headlines during the last Olympics in London. Having cleaned out all the gold medals in his events, Bolt made a bold statement. 

“It’s what I came here to do,” he said then. “I’m now a legend. I’m also the greatest athlete to live. I’ve got nothing left to prove. I’ve showed the world I’m the best.”

Indeed Bolt was the greatest in London in 2012. And he will walk away from Rio 2016 as immortal. What a feat. Is it possible for anyone to topple the achievements of Bolt or will he go down in history as the greatest track athlete of all? Only time will tell.

The best thing for us is that that you don’t have to be Jamaican to rejoice with Bolt – or any of the athletes and teams who won gold medals in Rio.  The wonderful thing about the coverage of these games being widely available is that young people have access to them. There is no doubt that they are being inspired and motivated by watching the success of others.

Lastly, despite the disappointment of not winning a medal, it must be said we are very proud of our Team Samoa. Yes Fiji won gold, Tonga took all the media attention but let them shine. Our time will come. Hopefully in this lifetime.

When the London Olympics ended in 2012, the then President of the Samoa Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (S.A.S.N.O.C) had this to say. Listen to him: “We have learned what we should do and we should go back now and look at our methods of preparedness. 

“I guess the other drawback was we kept our athletes at home and I think that some interferences with normal family affairs and family interference, so that is why we are looking at seriously; how can we prepare our elite athletes before major competition.”

That was then. Four years. Will we say the same thing again until the next four years? Don’t hold your breath! 

In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 20 August 2016, 12:00AM

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