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Tupua replies: Morgan incident not ASNOC kerfuffle

ASNOC releases list of AS contingent for 2012 Summer Olympics game
reporters@samoanews.com

In an interview with Samoa News yesterday, the President of the American Samoa National Olympic Committee (ASNOC) Ken Tupua fired back regarding negative comments reported in Monday’s Samoa News story concerning him and his organization, and in particular  the discus throw athlete who said her Olympic spot on the territory’s team was lost because of ASNOC’s failure to file her paperwork on time.

Samoa News notes the interview with Tupua was scheduled prior to the Samoa News story in Monday’s paper,  “At the very least, ASNOC has a PR problem…” but the issues discussed were centered around the article.

In Monday’s article, Samoa News quoted Alexandria Morgan, as reported in a California newspaper, The Ventura Star, saying “they told us in June that I was cleared and ready to go, and I recently found out that they got my tickets and everything figured out… But then I got a call saying they didn’t submit the paperwork until July 3 and got denied, so there would be no athletic representation for American Samoa.”

Samoa News linked the article on its website, two weeks ago, prompting an outpouring from the local public calling for a reorganization of the ASNOC, and in our story we quoted comments from the website and readership.

Morgan recently competed and earned a Gold Medal in Women’s Under 20 Discus Throw in the Eastern Division of the Track and Field Oceania Regional Championship in Cairns, Australia last month in June; and she was also announced by the ASNOC in a June press conference as one of the athletes going to the 2012 Olympic Summer games in London, representing representing American Samoa in the sport of Track and Field/Athletics —discus throw.

It therefore came as a surprise to many that she was not going, although it should be noted Coach Clayton ‘Boom’ Mahuka did not say that Morgan was going to the Olympics. He only referred to the male athlete at the Oceania regionals, Elama Faatonu, who “will be representing us in Barcelona, Spain, then in London for the 100 meters and we wish him the best,” Mahuka told Samoa News in a report published on July 3.

In the interview with the ASNOC president, Samoa News was shown a statement sent to ASNOC by the the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF).

The IAAF is the international governing body for the sport of athletics.

It states concerning Morgan: “With a season best performance of 47.71 meters against a ‘B’ standard of 59.50 meters, the Technical Delegates opinion is that the athlete’s technical level is too far from that of the other contenders to justify a starting place for her in the Discus Throw. Regretfully, we must therefore reject her application and ask you to submit the entry of another athlete, ideally in a Track and Field event.”

According to Tupua, “First of all, we did send all of the paper work in on time. We made sure everything was done properly.”

SELECTION PROCESS

In explaining the selection process for the territory’s athletes for Olympic games, including Morgan, Tupua stated the American Samoa Athletic Association (ASAA) brings the information to the ASNOC on who is going to try and compete for the Olympics.

“Since we did not qualify any athletes in Track and Field, we are allowed one male and female as long as they are competing out there in the World Track and Field Championships, in which the local Track and Field Association did. The IAAF allows our association to pick one male and one female. That is where our male 100-meter runner, Elama Faatonu was chosen. Morgan was chosen to be our female athlete and the reason for that was they (ASAA) thought she was really close to qualifying. So when they brought the paperwork into ASNOC, we went ahead and accepted their input,” he said.

(Tupua noted Faatonu qualified in a running event. The discus throw is a field event and the only way to qualify is to meet the A or B level standard, according to IAAF rules, which grants ‘universality’ only to non field (running) events. This point was made in one of the Samoa News website comments and quoted in Monday’s story. )

The ASNOC president went on to say that before Morgan left for Australia, ASNOC was informed that Morgan’s best throw at the time was measured in at 49 meters (in a non-qualifying event), which made here 1 meter short to qualify in the ‘B’ category. 

“We accepted this throw, because we felt that it was close enough for her to train and possibly surpass the ‘B’ throwers, so we accepted it. We had done all of the paper work and then she went to Australia to compete in one more competition and we hoped that she made the 50-meter mark. Unfortunately, the paperwork comes back and says that she did not qualify due to the qualifying throw in the Discus is 59 meters and her best this year was only 47.71 meters.”

WAIVERS

According to Tupua, in the IAAF regulations, if the athlete is very close in qualifying, you can apply for a waiver, and according to Tupua, that is what the ASNOC did.

He noted, for example, that Samoa also applied for a waiver in a ‘field’ event. It has a male shot put thrower who was really close for the ‘B’ category, and the IAAF allowed his throw to qualify him for the Olympic games.

“Once we received this information [Morgan’s rejection], we informed our local Track and Field Federation about the situation and we also informed Morgan, through her father,” said Tupua.

He reiterated that “ASNOC allows the local associations to bring in their athletes that they feel should try out.”

The ASNOC president stated, “Morgan is not going to the Olympics because her throw was short and the IAAF felt she was not qualified to compete; not because the paperwork was late.”

NEGATIVE COMMENTS

The ASNOC president responded in general to the negative comments quoted in Monday’s story. Shrugging his shoulders he said, “What do you want me to say? People have been saying this kind of stuff about us for a long time. Like I said before, if people want to come and talk to us, they are welcome. No matter what we do, people will always have something bad to say.”

Of his son, Kent Yamada as Chef de Mission, Tupua stated that his son was given this title (for right now) because he lives in London, and even though the official Chef de Mission is ASNOC Secretary General Ed Imo, Yamada was given the position temporarily until Imo arrives.

OFFICIAL ASNOC 2012 LONDON DELEGATES LIST

Four of the five athletes are in England at this time, according to Tupua. The rest of the contingent is departing the territory on the 19th of this month to join them.

“We want these local athletes to compete at the highest level. If people want to find out what is going on with us, come and work with us. Volunteer your time with one of these sports organizations and find out what we are all about. Come and talk to us, we have nothing to hide,” Tupua stated.

The Official American Samoa National Olympic Committee 2012 London Delegates List, as provided by ASNOC is as follows:

1            Kenneth Tupua-ASNOC President

2            Ed Imo-ASNOC General Secretary

3            Megan Fonteno-Female Swimming Athlete

4            Ching Maou Wei-Male Swimming Athlete

5            Nathaniel Tuamoheloa-Male Wrestling Athlete

6            Anthony Liu-Male Judo Athlete

7            Elama Soli Faatonu-Male Athletics Athlete

8            Robert Scanlan Jr-Swimming Coach

9            Erika Radewagen-Swimming President

10            Ethan Lake-Wrestling President

11            Valusia Talataina-Athletics Coach

12            Michaelle Vargas-Judo Coach

13            Sina Tupua-President’s Guest

14            Simeafou Imo-General Secretary’s Guest

15            Kent Yamada-Chef de Mission

16            Irene Kane-Wrestling Coach

BACKGROUND

Of the list, differing from the Wikipedia.com list in yesterday’s Samoa News story, is the following:

On the Wikipedia.com list and not on the official list from ASNOC:

Instant Bingo Coordinator, Dr. Snowy Amsam; Ass’t Chef de Mission, Pisupo Pisupo, Jr.; Physiotherapist, Chris Spalding, ATC; and Paperwork Coordinator, Cat Harper

On the ASNOC official list and not on the Wikipedia.com list:

Irene Kane- Wrestling Coach, who is the wife of Ethan Lake, Wrestling President; and two guests — one is the ASNOC general secretary’s wife, the other is the ASNOC president’s wife.

In all, there are five athletes, seven officials and two guests that comprise the official 2012 Summer Olympics American Samoa delegation that is representing the territory.

Samoa News did not ask the ASNOC president about the Carl Floor, Jr. wrestler, who is also not going to the 2012 Olympics, although he did qualify at the Africa-Oceania Tournament with a second place win in the 96kg weight class. Tupua, as noted in this story, has told Samoa News in the past that the American Samoa Athletic Association (ASAA) brings in the information to the ASNOC on who is going to try and compete for the Olympics —and they act on that information.



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