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Nolan Puletasi en route to Games

[Courtesy photo]

American Samoa's first ever delegation to the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games includes Nolan Puletasi, a 20-year-old valet, who studied computer science at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.

Coverage of the Games is being sponsored by Carl's Jr.

Puletasi is one of seven local athletes - 6 wrestlers and 1 track and field competitor - who are en route to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan to compete in what has been touted as the biggest event ever in the history of the Asian Indoor Games.

Puletasi graduated with an Associate of Science degree from Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, Missouri, and is now part of a team that aims to bring home the gold.

He and fellow wrestlers - Iafeta Vou, Daniel Misaalefua, Pita Fanolua, Zena Iese, and Sealiitu Mauga - will be squaring off against other grapplers in various weight categories on Sept. 25-26, although the official opening ceremony for the Games is scheduled for this coming Sunday, Sept. 17.

In addition to wrestling, American Samoa will see action in the track and field category, when Isaac Silafau competes in the 60m and the long jump on Sept. 18 and 20.

Athletes from some 60 countries – all members of the Asia and Oceania National Olympic committees - are expected to take part in the Games.

Participation in the Games, according to ASNOC secretary general Ethan Lake, is the closest our local athletes will get to experiencing what it's like to compete at the Olympic level.

"Many of the athletes will be Olympians, and Olympic and world medalists," he said. "What we are expecting from the Games is experience and exposure for our athletes. We go to represent American Samoa and showcase some of our raw talent, culture, and values, as well as our strengths and challenges."