Leilua makes Olympic Games qualification

By Shalveen Chand 13 January 2024, 5:30PM

Eroni Leilua recently made history by qualifying a second time to compete in the Olympic Games. Heis the first Samoan to represent Samoa in sailing firstly in Tokyo in 2021 and now in Paris in 2024.  

“To represent Samoa on the biggest stage again is a dream come true and I can’t wait to fly the flag for the first time on French waters,” said Eroni following the qualifying events at Sail Sydney.

Self-funding his Olympic pathway dream has been as much of a tough challenge as his training. He stated that he couldn’t be more proud of the team that helped him get there, especially his very supportive family, parents, siblings, wife, and daughter.

“We’ve all made many sacrifices along the way but it’s all been worth it and I’m grateful for it,” he said.

Qualifying for the Olympics at sailing has been a demanding and expensive road to follow with the first qualifying event being in Hague, Netherlands in August 2023. This was followed by the Sail Sydney Oceania Olympic Qualifier on 23 December 2023.

Eroni expressed his gratitude to his coach Ian Neelly and his New Zealand sponsors and also to local Samoan sponsors National Bank of Samoa and Swire Shipping.

Eroni now has seven months of intense training ahead to be in peak condition for the Olympic Games. Samoa Sailing Association and Eroni are seeking local sponsors to assist with this expensive part of his training.

Meanwhile, SSA President Raema von Reiche commented that Samoa’s female sailor Vaimoóia Ripley is still chasing qualification, sailing recently at the ILCA Australian and Oceania Open Championships in Adelaide.

Her ‘last chance’ qualifying event will be held in Hyeres, South of France in April this year.  

Meanwhile, the association is calling out to local companies who would be willing to support Eroni on his Olympic journey and ensure that his training needs are met.





By Shalveen Chand 13 January 2024, 5:30PM
Samoa Observer

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