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Baseball/softball, squash and wrestling being considered for inclusion in Olympic games

Local sports officials applaud the move
fili@samoanews.com

Officials of local sports associations have applauded a recommendation made by the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that baseball/softball and wrestling be proposed to the 125th IOC Session for possible inclusion as additional sports on the Olympic program for the 2020 Olympic Games.
 
The sports being recommended following the executive board meeting this week are baseball/softball, squash and wrestling, according to an IOC news release, which also says that the board selected the three sports by secret ballot from a shortlist of eight that included karate, roller sports, sport climbing, wake-boarding and wushu.
 
The full IOC membership will meet in Buenos Aires, Argentina from Sept. 7-10 during its annual conference, where a final decision will be made on which of the three sports to add to the 2020 Olympic program.
 
The IOC membership will also vote during this meeting to select the host city of the 2020 Olympics.
 
American Samoa National Olympic Committee president Victor Langkilde said he’s “grateful” to the executive board for its move to return baseball/softball and wrestling to the 2020 Olympic program.
 
“The IOC board’s recommendation gives hope for our athletics to be developed and trained in these sporting events,” Langkilde told Samoa News. He is also president of the American Samoa Baseball Association.
 
Asked for reaction as president of the baseball association, Langkilde says the association is “very much delighted to hear” of the board’s recommendation. (Baseball — for men — and softball — for women — are combined as one sports category)
 
“Baseball & Softball have come along way here in American Samoa — where we once dominated in the Pacific Region in the 90s,” said Langkilde. “Both sports seem to be growing again especially with the youth programs to feed the national program.”
 
“There are close to 400 kids in the summer program that will feed baseball & softball moving into the future,” he told Samoa News and noted that the local Baseball Association & Softball Association — whose president is Rep. Larry Sanitoa — “have worked closely together for many years and continue to do.”
 
“We hope to have baseball & softball in the 2020 Olympic Games Program,” he said.
 
Sanitoa said the recommendation by the executive board is “welcome news for our local Baseball and Softball avid fans and aspiring athletes.”
 
“I am very pleased that both these sports will be considered for the Olympics again.  Several years ago, both sports organizations were taken by surprise, when the Olympic Games dropped the two sports,” he said. “Softball is an opportunity for many of our talented young female softball players to aspire to play this sport in the Olympic Games representing their country.”
 
He pointed to Tuesday’s sports story by TulsaWorld news, which highlighted another great year for Ms. Keilani Ricketts (grand-daughter of Louisa & Elmer Gabbard of American Samoa) as the top college softball player for the second straight year.
 
“Keilani was here just two years ago with her sisters conducting clinics for our young softball players,” he said. “I'm certain Keilani would love to have a chance to showcase her talent in the Olympic Games. Congratulations to Keilani Ricketts and her parents for another great softball year.”
 
TulsaWorld reports that Amateur Softball Association of America announced Tuesday night that Ricketts, who attends Oklahoma University, won the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award.
 
Baseball joined the Olympics in 1992 and softball in 1996 but the last time both sports were in the Olympic program was during the 2008 Games in Beijing following a 2005 vote by the IOC in Singapore. Wrestling was not included by the IOC during a meeting early this year for a final list of 25 sports to be included in the  2016 games.
 
Wrestling association president Ethan Lake said he was “confident” that wrestling was recommended for inclusion, after-all it was one of the first sports included in the first Olympiads. “I am happy for the recommendation and we have to stay confident and we’re staying strong,” said Lake, who recently returned from a meeting in Moscow of the international governing body of wrestling. “There is this push to save Olympic wrestling,” he told Samoa News.
 
(In next Monday’s edition, more details regarding wrestling and the push for development in the region).
 
SQUASH
 
Squash is a racquet sport played by two players (singles) or four players (doubles) in a four-walled court with a small, hollow rubber ball, according to wikipedia online.
 
Langkilde said there is no squash sports association in the territory but suggested that if a local group is interested they can start working on setting up a local association. He explained that the group needed to set up their by-laws and get organized, followed by submitting their application to ASNOC.
 
(Samoa News should point out that there are few, if any public squash courts in the territory, although Samoa Sports Center in Tafuna has two of them.)
 
“What we do is review it, recognize it and accept it as a sanctioned sport under the ASNOC umbrella,” he said. “The group will also have to register with the regional body of this sport, who will assist them in applying for international recognition.”
 
“My point here is that there are other sports which American Samoa can take full advantage of, by first going to the local sporting body — such as ASNOC — then going regional before going to the international body,” he said. “I truly believe there is a lot of different sporting talent in American Samoa and it should be utilized locally, regionally and internationally.”



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