Congressman Faleomavaega today expressed his congratulations to the American Samoan athletes and officials who represented the territory at the on-going Olympics in Beijing, after American Samoa has been eliminated from the Games competitions in the early stages last week.
“The Olympic Games, now held in Beijing, China, present the largest international sporting event American Samoa plays an active role in. It is perhaps the largest Games held so far, and according to media reports, it is one of the best organized Games ever, where 10,500 world class athletes from 205 nations compete in 302 events of 28 various sports. Team numbers from participating countries vary from 600 down to five, and American Samoa fielded perhaps one of the smallest teams in the whole competition” Faleomavaega said.
“So while our four competitors, Silulu Aetonu (judo), Virginia Farmer and Stewart Glenister (swimming) and Shanahan Sanitoa (track) were eliminated at the early stages of their events, they nevertheless have placed the name of American Samoa once again in the arena of international sports. Even though they were not able to make it into the medal rounds, they played, swam and ran as best as they could against top world athletes for American Samoa. And my hearty congratulations goes out to them,” Faleomavaega continued.
“Every American Samoan who watched the Opening Ceremony last week on TV or read the newspaper reports, was moved and overwhelmed with honor and pride as our humble team was announced and came before the main grand stand, and before millions of television viewers around the world. No one missed it when the thousands of spectators in the arena rose to their feet in resounding cheers as the announcer’s voice echoed the name: American Samoa! It was the territory at its finest in the world of sports,” Faleomavaega stated.
“I am further touched because getting American Samoa to this kind of global exposure and full recognition as a registered member of the International Olympics organization, was the work of the late Governor Lutali; and memories of the late John Samia, the late Al Lolotai, and the late Filifaiesea Mailo and Melila Percell who all worked hard in getting American Samoa to be part of this significant international sporting event, come to mind. I remember the first time American Samoa was accepted and we participated as American Samoans under the status of a full-fledge International Olympic member in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. I headed the American Samoa team in those Games and for all of us, we will never forget the emotions, the pride and the overwhelming honor in those few moments as we marched for the first time for American Samoa before the world. Compared to the Beijing Games, only 8,500 athletes competed from 159 countries then, and I will always be happy with the representation of our territory by our young men and women then, now and in years to come,” Faleomavaega reminisced.
“I would also like to congratulate and thank the American Samoa National Olympics Committee, ASNOC President Ben Solaita and team officials Ken Tupua and Salaia Gabbard, coaches David Vargas, Erica Radewagen, Valusia Talaina and Meki Wender. I thank all the relatives, families, businesses and everyone who were involved for their support and prayers. You have succeeded in organizing a team for American Samoa despite the odds, and I congratulate and thank you all for a job well done.” Faleomavaega continued.
“Congratulations once again to Silulu, Virginia, Shanahan and Stewart, and to the coaches and officials from the territory. For two weeks, the world for once got together in the spirit of peace, harmony, and playing together, not just to win medals but to participate as one body. You made it possible for American Samoa to be part of this universal harmony, and I thank you” Faleomavaega concluded.