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Samoans qualify for Olympics in sailing, canoeing

Three Samoans qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics over the weekend in the sports of sailing and canoeing, after their performances at competitions in Australia.

Eroni Leilua finished 32nd in the Bronze fleet (115th overall) at the World Laser Championship over the week-long competition ending on Sunday, held at Sandringham Yacht Club in Melbourne.

He ended up with 301 points from the 12 races, enough to beat Papua New Guinean rival Teariki Numa’s 378 total and claim one of the Oceania qualifying places, with Australia and New Zealand having already qualified their boats for Tokyo at previous World Championship events.

Meanwhile in Penrith, Sydney, Samoan athletes were competing at the Oceania Canoe Sprint Championships over Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

With Australia and New Zealand having qualified their maximum six boats across the men’s and women’s canoeing and kayaking events, there were places available for athletes from other Pacific islands to put their hand up for the Olympics.

Three-time 2019 Pacific Games medallist Anne Cairns came fourth in her K1 (one person kayak) 500 metre heat on Thursday, which was good enough to earn her a spot at her second straight Olympic games.

Similarly, Tuva'a Clifton earned the quota place for Samoa after coming third in his K1 200 metre heat on Saturday.

A fifth-placed finish in the semifinal put Clifton in the overall B Final, where he came third.

Cairns missed out on the K1 500 metre final after coming eighth in her semifinal on Sunday.

She also ended up placing ninth in the K1 200 metre B final, and competed with sister Bridget Cairns in the C2 (two person canoe) 500 metre event.

Tuva’a Clifton ended up coming third in the K1 200 metre B Final, with fellow Samoan Rudolf Williams missing out after finishing eighth in their semifinal.

The two paired up for the K2 2000 metre event, where they ended up seventh in the B final.

Clifton, Cairns and Eroni Leilua join weightlifter Don Opeloge and discus thrower Alex Rose as Samoan athletes to have qualified for the Olympics.

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