The Vailima Sports Person of the Year Award – Vaipava Nevo Ioane of Samoa Weightlifting with Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi. PHOTOS – Talamua Media
BY Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – TUESDAY 20 DECEMBER 2016: Weightlifting dominated this years’ Vailima Sports Awards winning four of the twelve categories.
Hosted and organized by the Leadership Samoa Class of 2015 last Saturday evening, the effort was highly praised as it has been many years since the sports men and women have been recognized in the sports awards.
Weightlifting also received the first Special prize to Ele Opeloge who will be the first Samoan athlete to receive an Olympic medal when athletes in her division were disqualified for using banned substances in the Beijing Olympics where she missed the bronze by 1 kg.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi also received a special award for his leadership role in the development of sports in the country.
Delivering the keynote address, Tuilaepa commended the Leadership Class of 2015 for the initiative in honoring Samoa’s sport people and he hopes to see more of such events in the future.
He also congratulated the finalists and the awards “has set a high bench mark for others to emulate.”
He used the occasion to point to the weaknesses in team performances saying mental weakness is a problem that coaches need to address. He also referred to what a former Manu Samoa 7’s coach said about losing mentally before the game starts.
“The bottom line for any athlete is fitness. Mental weakness comes with lack of fitness and the players lose before the match starts,” he stated. He then encouraged coaches to address these issues. He also pointed to sports where Samoa has declined over the years such as boxing, athletics and rugby.
Tuilaepa also pointed to the “weakness in sports management” as office bearers refuse to step down as they enjoy the overseas trips and continue without having annual general meetings to elect new officers as they want to keep on.
Differences between sports management in the past resulted in Government stepping in a formed what is now the Samoa Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee – SASNOC.
“There is an easy way for Government to solve this problem, but we want to give the opportunity to the sports bodies and SASNOC first,” said Tuilaepa.
* TVOne Junior Sportswoman of the Year – Elenor Schuster, Tennis Samoa
* Tissan Junior Sportsman of the Year – Don Opeloge, Samoa Weightlifting
* BSP Empowered Athlete with Disability of the Year Award – Petelo Evile, Special Olympics Samoa
* Silva Group Senior Sportswoman of the Year – Matile Sitagata, Samoa Powerlifting Association
* Vailima Pure Sportsman of the Year – Vaipava Nevo Ioane, Samoa Weightlifting
* Leadership Samoa Sports Administrator of the Year Award – Tagaloa Fa’afouina Su’a, Rugby League Samoa
* BSP Bank Coach of the Year Award – Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork, Samoa Weightlifting
* MaiFM Manager of the Year Award – Fia’ailetoa Pepe Christian Fruean, Samoa Powerlifting Association
* SSFA Team of the Year Award – Manu Samoa 7’s
* Samoa Observer Lifetime Achievements Award – Muliagatele Brian Lima, Samoa Rugby Union
* Talamua Media Samoa Sports Body of the Year Award – Samoa International Cricket
* Vailima Sports Person of the Year Award – Vaipava Nevo Ioane, Samoa Weightlifting.