As the country eagerly awaits news on the possibility of her first Olympic medal from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Ele Opeloge’s parents say they are proud of their daughter no matter what.
Ele who placed fourth in the 2008 Olympics women’s 75kg+ lifters has a chance to be bumped up to second place after two athletes above her tested positive for drugs during a retest.
Lesila Opeloge and Tovia Opeloge spoke to the Samoa Observer about the joy they felt when they heard the news.
“I give all the glory and honour to God,” Ele’s proud mother Lesila said.
“I thank the Lord for the opportunity he has given Ele to make Samoa proud. Samoa might finally get a chance to get their first medal.
“No matter what happens, I thank the Lord. No matter how proud we are as her parents, the Lord deserves all the glory.”
But the excitement now isn’t the same for Lesila as it would have been if Ele had received the medal in 2008.
“In all honesty the time for my happiness has ended because that Olympic time is over,” she said.
“But I will still thank the Lord for all he has done. The children may not have much but the Lord has blessed them with this talent.
“Everyone is proud of Ele; she has even influenced my grandchildren to take up the sport in the future.”
According to the proud mother, Ele deserves the medal because she was going against juiced competitors armed with what she got from sheer determination.
“In my heart I strongly believe that Samoa deserves a medal,” she said.
“She was placed fourth because the others who beat her took enhancing drugs; she (Ele) deserves that medal because the others cheated.
“I would be really happy and so will Samoa because we have never gotten a medal ever.”
But what was Ele like when she was growing up, was she always this strong?
“Ele wasn’t always this strong,” Lesila said.
“She attended Leiififi College and she ran into a lot of problems there.
There was a time when she had an argument with another student and wanted to beat them up.
“She then dropped out and then began training in the sport of weightlifting. The talent of weightlifting started with my other child in New Zealand in 1996.
“I think that’s where Ele got her motivation from. She never wanted to go back to school because she wanted to stick to increasing the level of her talent.”
With tears in her eyes, Lesila continued.
“Ele went straight into the sport after she stopped schooling and I am glad the Lord has blessed my children with this talent,” she said.
“My family is not rich; we make money from our plantation to take care of the family. Letting Ele pursue and increase her talent in the sport was hard for me.
“I would fast for 40 days for my children to be alright. The weights they carry are very heavy and I worry about the pain they go through.
“Whenever my children take part or train, I always leave them in the hands of the Lord.
I know that our heavenly father is the source of strength and that’s why we rely on him.
“For many other sports you will have fellow teammates to help you out but with weightlifting, they are on their own when carrying the weights.”
Lesila continued to describe her daughter as having a heart of gold.
“Ele is a caretaker,” she said.
“She looks after the elderly in her family very well and I am thankful for her life. No matter how much she makes, she will always put her parents first.
“That’s the life of Ele, she is very hard working and we have supported her throughout it all. We wish we could go and visit her in N.Z.”