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Olympics: Team AmSam in men’s freestyle wrestling

jeff@samoanews.com
Samoa’s Ele Opeloge competes during women’s +75-kg, weightlifting competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

American Samoa is down to one athlete remaining in the games, with four being eliminated early on in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England held from July 27-August 12.

Nathaniel Tuamoheloa who competes in Men’s Freestyle Wrestling, will be doing so in the 96kg class on August 12 representing American Samoa.

Team Samoa weightlifter, medal hopeful Ele Opeloge who competes in the Women’s 75kg class, did not fare as well as many Samoans hoped she would, in hopes of bringing home an Olympic medal to her island nation of Samoa. Opeloge brought with her to these Olympic Games, 2 Golds and a Silver medal that she earned in past Oceania Weightlifting Championships, a Gold in the 2010 Commonwealth Games and a 4th place finish at the 2008 Olympic Games, just missing out on a Bronze.

 Instead of earning a medal at these 2012 Olympic Games, Opeloge finished in at 6th place out of a field of 14 competing against the best. She had lifts of 117kg in the Snatch and 150kg in the Clean & Jerk for a total of 267kg, which was not enough to overtake the over all Gold medal winner Lulu Zhou of China who lifted an Olympic and World record total weight of 333kg when she put up 146kg in the Snatch and 187kg in the Clean & Jerk. Luisa Peters of the Cook Islands finished in the 8th place in this field of 14.

ILLNESS BLAMED FOR OPELOGE MISSING MEDAL

A report for Radio New Zealand says Opeloge had gone into the Games below her best after contracting chickenpox a month ago and her coach, Jerry Wallwork, says a string of illnesses simply caught up with her.

“I reckon she would have won the bronze medal today if she would have been in her top form - I’m almost 100 percent sure. With what she did in Delhi and if she would have been in top form now she would have won the bronze medal today. She’s still young enough - she can go to the next Olympics - but that really depends on her. She’s got to put in the hard work or she’s not going to make it.”

PACIFIC ATHLETES DAY 11

Radio New Zealand reports Vanuatu’s Arnold Sorina and Guam’s Derek Mandell have failed to advance past the heats of the men’s 800m on day 11 of the London Olympics.

Sorina was last in his heat in a time of 1.54.29, while Mandell was 7th in his in 1.58.94.

Micronesian wrestler Keitana Graham was eliminated in his opening Greco-Roman bout against America’s Charles Betts.

Josh Utanga suffered the same fate in the men’s K1000 kayak, while Fijian shooter Glenn Kable was 23rd in the men’s trap competition.

And Tonga’s Ana Pouhila finished 30th in the women’s shot put with a best throw of 15.80m.

Competing yesterday for Team Samoa was Rudolph Berking-Williams who competes in the Men’s Canoe Single (C1) 1000 meters. Samoa News was not able to retrieve the results of that race as of press time.

CHEERS MATE

by Ethan Lake, ASWA president and member of Team American Samoa

One of the greatest things that our athletes will take away from the Olympics is the experience of meeting and getting to know the many cultures that have all come together during these two weeks of competition. 

Even here in Great Britain where they speak English, or more properly, the Queen’s English, you instantly find distinguishing culture differences. There are literally over 15K athletes and officials being housed in the village representing over 200 countries. No other time or place in the world can you find this many different countries congregating and living in an area smaller than Utulei.  It is literally like traveling around the world, just by walking down the street;  every country showing their pride with flags, banners, signs and/or anything else they could bring with them on the plane.

 It is an amazing site. Most of the countries and their governments, have learned to take advantage of this unique occasion and use it as an opportunity to market themselves to the 200+ other countries here. 

In reality, you could easily dub this the biggest Tourism Expo in the world, that only occurs every four years. You not only have people from all over the world in the village, but you also have important visiting dignitaries that pass through. Each country’s living area, is literally a visitors booth to the world and acts as a portal for visitors. 

Many of the countries go all out with their welcome areas, sporting brochures, pictures, posters, tourist material and more. Most of the teams here are also fully sponsored by their governments with everything from sports shoes, sports suits, hats jacket s and everything in between. These governments see the benefits of investing in the teams, not just for the competition of the sport, but also for the unique opportunity it gives them to positively market their country and culture. 

Australia spent over $4 million dollars just for their teams multiple uniforms, warm-ups, outfits as well as other marketing materials. Upon arriving to London each Australian Athlete was given two suitcases full of uniforms and outfits to be worn during the Games; complete sets for each day of their stay. We found this to be the case for many of the countries. It is uncommon for any team to wear anything else other than their team uniform every day. 

Team American Samoa is fortunate just to have at least one set of warm ups.

In addition to government support, some countries have the blessings of having private sponsors as well, such as our brothers and sisters across the water. Not only does the Samoa government help their athletes financially, they even offer them $100,000 tala if they medal and $500,000 tala if they get Gold.

In the face of the many challenges, our athletes continue to hold their own on the track, in the pool, and on the mat. 

Today was no exception as it was another good day for Team American Samoa.

Our fourth athlete to compete,  Elama Fa'atonu did well in the 100m sprint. Like both Ching and Megan, Elama also beat his personal best with a time of 11.48 seconds placing 24th overall.

So far, all of our athletes have outdone their personal best times, showing that their training has paid off. Their times speak for themselves, beating out many other countries and ranking respectably in their individual sports. Their results are even more amazing when you consider that they’ve done this without proper training facilities at home like track fields or a swimming pool.

 Go team American Samoa!



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