Swimmer turned triathlete ecstatic to represent Samoa at Pacific Games
Samoan Pacific Games triathlete Sosefina Faapalemata So’oa’emalelagi is loving the sport she only took up competitively in January.
The 20-year-old from Vailele is the only female in Samoa’s triathlon team for the Games who is training locally.
Having only done one triathlon prior to this year, So’oa’emalelagi was a competitive swimmer in her youth.
“Since I can remember pretty much, I stopped swimming when I went to [my foundation year of university].
“When I went overseas to study, I didn’t train much, but when I came back I realised that I enjoyed cycling as well.
“Afoa our coach, he approached me and he was like Sos I think you’d be good as a triathlete, would you like to join, and the rest is history pretty much.”
So’oa’emalelagi said she is enjoying triathlon because she can rotate between training in each of the three components.
“It’s so much better than swimming, because when you’re swimming you’re looking at the ground for like three hours, and it’s just you and the ground the whole way.
“It’s pretty boring, it’s pretty tedious, so it’s nice to get out of the water, go cycling and see other people as well.”
The triathlon team’s training at the moment consists of mock trials every month at Mulinu’u, on the same course as the Pacific Games event.
“We’ve become more familiar with the route, getting more aware of the sea and getting used to it,” said So’oa’emalelagi.
She said that’s not the only aspect of Team Samoa’s home field advantage.
“It’s really exciting, it makes you want to do well.
“It’s really nice having family and friends here supporting you.
“It’s such an honour to represent Samoa as well.
“We’re very privileged to have this opportunity.”
So’oa’emalelagi and three of her teammates went to New Plymouth last month for a high-performance training programme.
“It was so good, the coaches, the quality of the training we were receiving,” she said.
At the end So’oa’emalelagi competed in the New Zealand Secondary Schools Triathlon.
“It was just really good exposure for all of us.”
So’oa’emalelagi is the second of four children, and she describes herself as the troublemaker of the family.
Younger brother Sitivi is in China training with Samoa’s swimming team for the Pacific Games.
“I really want my brother to compete as well,” Sosefina said.
She is in her third year studying civil engineering at the University of Sydney, but has taken a semester off to focus on training for the Games in July.
“My aim is to be an environmental engineer, it’s kind of why I’m working at Samoa Water Authority part time while I’m here.”
So’oa’emalelagi said it was hard to step away from her studies, but she is also happy to get away for a time so she can refocus afterwards.
She said she enjoys cooking in her spare time.
“It’s therapeutic, and I like it because I love the end product, you have something to eat and I love food.”