Star weightlifter Ele Opeloge talking to Talamua today
BY Pa’i Mulitalo Ale
APIA, SAMOA – TUESDAY 28 MARCH 2017: Samoan star weightlifter Ele Opeloge is home for good and to continue training so as to represent Samoa as a weightlifter again.
The Olympic silver medalist returned from New Zealand last weekend and is awaiting word of when she will officially be presented her Olympic Silver medal by the Sports Association of Samoa and National Olympic Committee.
In an interview with Talamua Media today, Ele shared her excitement as the first woman weight lifter to receive an Olympic medal for Samoa which is a huge achievement not only for herself but her country.
“This is for my Samoa, and I will continue to be their flag bearer as long as I can as a weightlifter,” she said.
Although it has been long time coming, Ele believes that her talent and her success are from God and returns all Glory to God.
Although disappointed with the decision because the medal should have been presented for Samoa right there and then in Beijing in 2008 and for the whole world see Samoa’s flag rise. But she believes God had a different plan for her.
“I gave it my all, my preparations, training and my whole strength and I believed in myself and that I can do it,” she said.
When she received the news about the medal, she said she humbled herself and asked God whether it’s true or not and she waited patiently. When everything was confirmed, she was on her knees and thanked God for everything.
Having won three gold medals for Samoa in the South Pacific Games and the Commonwealth Games, a medal in the Olympics was the most natural step for her.
Now 32 years old, a husband and two children, Ele is getting back to training and wants to be back on top as she eyes the Commonwealth in Australia in 2018.
She said she was approached by the Weightlifting Association in New Zealand to train for them; however her heart is still here in Samoa.
“I grew up here, the talent I have started here and I will never let my people down, I will continue to be their flag bearer,” she said.
Ele Opeloge currently holds the records for Women Weightlifting in +75kg for Oceania, the Commonwealth and the South Pacific Games.
Ele Opeloges humble beginnings
Ele is from a low income family. She left school when she was in Year 9 and decided to work full time on their vegetable garden and their plantation.
She was the income earner for their family at a very young age when she left school.
“I decided to stay home not knowing what God had planned for me,” she said.
She helped her parents with the plantation and selling products at the market every day.
“Everyone at the market knows me back then and what I used to do, I sell crops for a living and I never gave up,” Ele recalled.
She said every day she would thank God for the money she made to help her family and with what’s going on with her life.
Born into a family of weightlifters, she was influenced at a young age by her older brother Niu Sila who asked her to try out weightlifting but she never took it seriously.
“I started when I was 11 years old,” she remembers. “But it wasn’t until I turned 20 when I trained seriously at Tuana’imato and that’s when I said to myself, this is it. I have to pursue this talent.”
The 32-year-old never looked back since. Weightlifting gave her the confidence and self-respect, a new outlook on life and an appreciation of God’s gifts for her.
Ele Opeloge is the daughter of Tovia and Lesila Opeloge of Vaoala. She is the fifth of six children who have made the Opeloge family name in weightlifting. She is married to Lalotoa Tavita with two young children.