POSTCARDS FROM AUSTRALIA
American Samoa is being represented in the 2012 Oceania Wrestling Championships (January 27- 29), with wrestlers from the American Samoa Wrestling Association (ASWA), as well as those who are of Samoan descent and have been training off-island. The championships are taking place in Sydney, Australia, and are the first stage of the Olympic qualifier for the 2012 Olympic Games to be held in London, England this summer.
Head coach for Team American Samoa is Ethan Lake, who is also president of the ASWA, is still sending ‘postcard’ updates for the territory, although Wresting Team American is back in American Samoa, as of Monday.
Today’s postcard update is for the Sunday, Jan. 29, the final day of competition, which ended with a friendly Sunday’s Beach Wrestling and a BBQ Luncheon. At this time, Lake said that they are awaiting official final standings, including medal count from the Oceania championships.
BEACH WRESTLING AND A BRONZE MEDAL FROM COACH LAKE
Sunday January 29th marked the final day of the 2012 Oceania Wrestling Championships. The Championships ended with a friendly competition of Beach Wrestling at the Maroubra Beach in Sydney followed by a BBQ Luncheon to celebrate the accomplishments of all the teams.
During the final competitions of Beach Wrestling; anyone, including athletes, coaches and officials could enter to represent their country. As one of our top gold medalist, Team American Samoa entered Sonny Gaoa to represent American Samoa. However due to his unavailability at the time his name was called for his first match, Team American Samoa was required to throw in a last minute substitute in order to not forfeit the tournament. Since the other team members were either injured, not available or not prepared, Coach Lake had no choice but to reluctantly throw himself into the vacancy so that American Samoa would not forfeit.
Unprepared himself, Coach Lake came into the mix as an underdog weighing in at around 90kg.
As the luck of the draw would have it, for his first match, he was matched up with Freestyle Gold Medalist Florian Temengil who topped the scales at 120kg. With a 30kg/66lb disadvantage, lack of personal preparation and going against the top seeded wrestler, Lake had his work cut out for him.
Once again it appeared to be a David vs. Goliath match up when both wrestlers entered the arena of sand stepping into the combat circle. Temengil had the definite weight and strength advantage, but Lake had experience and low gravity. As the match carried on, it appeared to be two bulls locked at the horns. Then, in a surprise move, Lake was able to get under Temengil’s defenses and double lock around his waist to throw the 120kg Temengil to his back. Lake was able hold the massive wrester for a pin and a win. He then worked his way to the semi-finals where he lost a close match by 2 points. Lake went on to secure a 3rd place finish for Team American Samoa, adding a bronze medal to the team’s official medal count.
Following the beach wrestling, the host country Australia, put on a luncheon for all the teams and recognized some of the key event organizers and referees that made everything possible.
They also announced the results of the Oceania Council of Associated Wrestling Styles (OCAWS) Congress held several days earlier on the hosting of the 2013 Oceania Championships and the bid award for the 2014 Oceania Championships.
Last year Guam was awarded the bid to host the 2015 Oceania Championships.
This year, Team American Samoa with the support of the ASNOC put in a strong bid to host the 2014 Oceania Wrestling Championships. A final decision was not able to be made during the OCAWS Congress due to multiple bids that were submitted, however, after having several days of careful consideration by the OCAWS Council Board Members and after the strong finish once again by Team American Samoa, overwhelming support was given to American Samoa, underscored by the team’s continued medal results and over all wrestling accomplishments in Oceania over the past several years.
The final decision was made official and announced that American Samoa would be awarded the 2014 Oceania Wrestling Championships.
This will be the first time that the Oceania Wrestling Championships will be held in American Samoa. There are 15 member nations and growing in Oceania, which includes Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa, Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Palau, Solomon Islands, Marshal Islands, Vanuatu, Niue, Tonga, Kiribati, CNMI, and Nauru.
To make this event even more significant, it will be the Qualifying year for the Youth Olympic Games. In addition the Commonwealth Nations in Oceania have used the Oceania Championships in the past as the Qualifiers to the Commonwealth Games that occur every 4 years. In this case, the next qualifiers will most likely be the 2014 Oceania Championships. What this means is that this event may bring the largest array of international visitors to the island since the Pacific Arts Festival.
The American Samoa Wrestling Associations is proud to have won the opportunity to host the 2014 Oceania Wrestling Championships. With only two years to pull this event off, the President of the American Samoa Wrestling Association (ASWA) is calling on the community to jump on board to help plan this international event.
The biggest request is for businesses that would like to get on board early and would not only sponsor the event but sponsor this growing sport program on the island. With the upcoming hosting of the 2014 Oceania Championships and mounting local interest, early business partners and sponsors can surely benefit off the coattails of ASWA’s growing success.
For more information on helping, contact ASWA at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 770-1006.
IN ADDITION: Don’t forget that ASWA, in partnership with ASHSAA, is currently hosting the second year of wrestling in the high schools. You can contact your high school administration for more details. The ASHSAA Wrestling Season Opening Tournament will be held this Saturday at the Samoana High School Gym starting at 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. February 4. Everyone is invited to attend and remember, it is never too late to join wrestling. Everyone is welcome.
(In Thursday’s final Wrestling Postcard — Wrestling Team American Samoa will give its final update on its journey, including its traveling experiences from Pago to Sydney, and back, which included a ‘through Samoa’ leg of the trip.)