Samoa's First Olympic Medalist Presented With Medal In 'Uneventful' Ceremony

Prime Minister expresses disappointment in presentation 

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, Samoa (Talamua, April 4, 2017) – It was an anticlimax. After the media hype and publicity, only a handful of people that included weightlifters, disinterested sports administrators and a few relatives and supporters turned up to witness Samoa’s first ever Olympic medal being presented.

Infact, there were more police officers in the guard of honour and band put together that shadowed some kind of a crowd to suit the event.

A disappointed Prime Minister vented his anger at the Samoa Association of Sports and Olympic Committee – SASNOC who seem to have organized the presentation overnight.

He challenged SASNOC that cases that involve the stripping of medals from a drug tested athlete, they should have petitioned the Olympics Committee to speed up their investigation and relay the decision as soon as it’s is done.

“You are working with them and you should have pushed to speed these things up rather than leaving it too late until an athlete has become a pensioner when a medal is presented.”

Tuilaepa also argued that such medals (especially drug cheating) should be presented officially at the next Olympics to at least recapture the essence of the ‘lost’ moment as the world is watching.

He also challenged SASNOC “to stop sleeping and wake up to do the best for the Samoan athletes.”

“Ele competed in the world arena, and her medal should have been presented in that arena, for the whole world to watch,” said Tuilaepa.

He emphasized the fact that three Olympics have passed since the China in 2008 where Ele should have been presented with the silver medal.

Samoa joined the Olympics in 1984 and 33 years later, Ele Opeloge is the first ever to win a medal for her country.

In the 2012 Olympics, Ele came sixth in the overall world standings. However, since the disqualification of another athlete, Ele has moved up to fifth placing, and that was acknowledged with a Certificate from the Olympic Committee and was also presented to Ele this morning.

The President of the Samoa Weightlifting Federation, Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork supported Tuilaepa’s message of having the silver medal presented in the Olympic arena.

“We have argued and asked the Olympic Committee on the issue, but they turned us down,” said Tuaopepe.

Tuaopepe believes that when drugs issues come up at the Olympics, the Olympic Committee do their best to cover up.

Tuaopepe was also surprised by the way the Olympic Committee sent the medal over through airmail. He said he was only informed last night of this morning’s medal presentation

He said the Weightlifting Federation was hoping the Government could have put up an event like the one New Zealand did for Valerie Adams, where the country came together to celebrate after she won gold when the original winner was disqualified for doping.

However, he acknowledged the people who turned up and Samoa Observer for the support.

The Minister for Education Sports and Culture Loau Keneti Sio presented the medal to Ele.

Samoa’s Silver and Fiji’s Gold in Sevens rugby are the Pacific island so far posting medals in the Olympic Games.

“Now that Samoa has achieved a Silver medal is proof that winning an Olympic gold will soon be a reality,” insisted Tuilaepa.

Talamua
Copyright © 2017 Talamua. All Rights Reserved

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