The Samoa Associations of Sports and National Olympic Committee (S.A.S.N.O.C) received a telling off from the Prime Minister yesterday for not doing anything to speed up the process of getting the silver medal earlier.
Tuilaepa made the comments during his speech at the low-key medal presentation for Ele Opeloge in front of the government building.
He reminded the S.A.S.N.O.C. and the Weightlifting Federation that it is their job to speak up to the Board on behalf of the athletes.
“I want to encourage the committee of our Sports Federation,” said Tuilaepa.
“Ele won this medal three Olympics ago due to circumstances we are all aware of.”
“My advice is, if something like this ever happens in the future, you have to make sure that you stand up for our athletes.”
“You are the ones who are cooperating with the Executive members and Committees of the Olympic Games. The next time something like this happens, tell them to hurry up with their decisions and processes.”
“The delay in their decision can result in the medal arriving when the medalist is already a pensioner.”
He went on to say that they should advise the Board to have an official ceremony in the global arena for the whole world if something like this happens again.”
“Tell them that if a case such as this happens again; make sure they have a special ceremony in the next Olympic Games where they will officially handover the medal to the right person to acknowledge them and their work.”
“This ceremony should’ve been done in a global stage where everyone could see. We should avoid having informal ceremonies such as today’s ceremony which is unofficial.”
“You should make sure of that, you are the ones communicating with them.”
“Don’t just sleep and do nothing; get up and do the right thing for our children and athletes.”
“We all know the story behind this medal. This medal was supposed to be given to Ele in 2008.”
“But we had just officially received the medal after three Olympics had gone by.”
He went on to say that this is the first time since we participated in the Olympic Games, Samoa has won a medal.
“We started participating in the year 1984.”
“After 33 years, we finally got a medal from the Olympic Games.”
“Fiji has won a gold medal from Rugby, Tonga has won a medal from boxing and now Samoa has won a silver medal from Weightlifting, which is why we are here today.”
“We are here to celebrate and witness the official handover of the Silver Medal to Ele Opeloge who represented Samoa in weightlifting.”
He then congratulated Ele on her achievement.
“Malo tauivi, malo finau, malo le tauata’i.”
Lastly, Tuilaepa used the opportunity to challenge the athletes in Samoa.
“The truth is, if we can get a silver medal, then we are also capable of winning a gold medal.”
“But for now, let us enjoy and rejoice this sweet victory then move forward to what is ahead of us.”
“We can get a gold medal, which is the main target for all of us.”
“There are a lot of opportunities ahead of us where we can get a gold medal. The commonwealth games are coming up follow by the Olympics in Japan.”
“We need to start preparing for that.”
He also reminded them that the government award policy remains as it is. They can only present monetary awards to those who receive gold medals.
“The main purpose is to motivate and encourage them to do their best to be the best of the best.”