Pride in Ele
While brainstorming sessions are no doubt a more focused and recognised way of coming up with ideas, there’s a lot to be said for casual, meandering conversations over coffee as well.
The latter can lead to solving the problems of the world and even more important issues such as, how can we as a people, honour and show our pride and respect for a world-ranked sports star born and trained in Samoa?
Which is how the Samoa Observer came up with the idea of setting up ‘Ele’s Fund’, to pay our respects to this amazing woman when she is finally bestowed her Silver Olympic medal some eight years after the Beijing Olympics in China.
Having missed her moment of glory on the podium at the pinnacle of all world sports – the Olympics, we believe a heartfelt meaalofa from the young and old, rich and poor would be a fitting gift to be presented with that long-awaited medal.
In a world where young people are looking around for heroes and heroines with whom they can identify and some day emulate, here is Ele.
We hope that in particular the young people in our country will learn the story of Ele and donate coins or whatever they can manage, as individuals, groups, classes or schools.
Ele’s rise to world ranking in the sport of weightlifting is one of those amazing stories about a sports star which covers the whole spectrum of wins, defeats, challenges, setbacks and moments of glory.
It is also about back-breaking training twice a day and cutting out just about everything else from life as we know it.
Throw in a coach - Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork who was so much more –taskmaster, mentor, friend, supporter and often resorted to supplementing the non-existent operating budget from his own resources to sustain the athletes, the sport he loved and the dreams they had.
She also had the support and love of her family and was buoyed, her mother said, by the support and prayers of the people of Samoa.
And through it all, from what we have been told, Ele remained the same humble and talented athlete.
Her rapid rise to world ranking was nothing short of incredible.
In 2007, aged 22 she was ranked 11th in the over 75kg category in the world. The following year, 2008, she lifted her personal best and finished fourth in her event at those fateful Beijing Olympics.
It was Gold for Ele at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India with a Games record as well.
And despite a build up to the London Olympics marred by chicken pox and typhoid fever, she still took sixth place in her category.
She never gave up.