Samoa’s Gold and Silver medal weightlifters, Feagaiga Stowers and Don Opeloge to compete in the World Champs in June
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – FRIDAY 20 APRIL 2018: The Samoa Weightlifting Federation has set a new mission and focus – to win Gold at the 2020 Olympics.
This follows a successful performance at last weeks’ Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast where the team won 2 Golds and 2 Silver medals.
Samoa’s most successful Coach Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork said with the team’s good performance, he wants to take his team to the next level.
Weightlifting has earned Samoa’s only medal in the Olympics through former Commonwealth gold medalist Ele Opeloge who won Silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Now the opportunities are opening up with an invitation for his youngest medal winners, Feagaiga Stowers and college student Don Opeloge to compete in the Junior World Championship in June 2018.
Tuaopepe said it is the first time Samoa has been invited to compete in this tournament and he has high hopes for his young lifters and he is confident that they can repeat that performance at the World Champs.
Don Opeloge and Feagaiga Stowers are already ranked in the top 3 in the world and this will be a great opportunity for them to win medals at the Olympics level.
“To go to the Commonwealth Games and perform and win medals, is an outstanding achievement and I commend and credit them all,” said Tuaopepe whose commitment and discipline has shone through the results on the international stage.
“As a coach, I cannot ask for anything more, but I still want to take them to the highest level in the Olympics,” he said.
Compared to past competitions, Tuaopepe rated his Commonwealth team the “best ever and they were well prepared.”
He said when the 18 year old student Don Opeloge won the first medal for Samoa, the next step was to secure a gold medal.
He compared Don Opeloge to Feagaiga Stowers who has been training hard for 3 years non-stop and no one expected Don to win a medal.
“He was the underdog and I believe he performed his personal best when he won Silver, and I am very happy for that,” said Tuaopepe.
Although Don was unlucky to miss the Gold, he is expected to come back stronger for the Pacific Games in Samoa next year.
He explained the moment when Sanele Mao won Samoa’s first gold, the team was emotional.
“Sanele has worked hard and he deserved Gold,” said Tuaopepe.
The junior team is back in training to prepare for the World Champs in two months’ time.
Dedication and Discipline
“We run our training camp like a military with hard discipline, no drinking, no talking, no missed training. We only allow five minutes for a lifter to come late when training starts,” said Tuaopepe.
He said weightlifting has proven that Samoa can produce champions locally even without proper funding and facilities to train with and that every sport can produce winners.
Weightlifting won four of Samoa’s five medals at the Gold Coast – two Golds and two Silvers. Boxing secured one Silver and brought Samoa’s final medal tally to 5 and topped the Pacific islands with medals won at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.