Deidre Tautua – Fanene
Junior World Champion Weightlifters Don Opeloge and Feagaiga Stowers were in the line-up as well, when monetary prizes were awarded yesterday, to all the gold medal winners from the Pacific Games.
Opeloge and Stowers were gold medalists at the International World Federation Junior World Championship in Suva, Fiji, earlier in the year.
Held on Saturday morning, it is an initiative by the Government of Samoa to acknowledge the efforts by the athletes as well as the two lifters.
A total of $95k was divvied up at the Samoa Tourism Authority Fale to all the recipients to benefit from the Government sporting incentive.
The Minister of Education Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, underlined the exclusive rewards to gold medal winners, primarily from the XVI Pacific Games in July this year.
He added this has been the government’s policy to reward only the gold medalists; it is also to encourage the athletes to aim high and not just for silver and bronze medals.
One third of the total reward money went to the weightlifters who contributed 16 gold to Samoa’s total medal tally from the Pacific Games of 38 won.
A Cabinet announced in a statement after a meeting last week that $2000 tala are to be awarded for each gold medalist and $4,000 for the head coach of each gold medal winning sporting event.
However, an official from the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture revealed that head coaches only gets $1,000 not $4,000.
Weightlifting Head Coach, Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork spoke on behalf of the athletes as well as the coaches to thank the government as well as the Prime Minister for their support as well as the monetary rewards.
The funds were drawn from the Samoa Gambling Control Authority working together with the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture to coordinate the special event.
The sporting champions with a chance for similar prize money are the Manu Samoa players at the Rugby World Cup coming up in Japan.
Bringing home the prized trophy as World Rugby Champions could see up to 30 players in the team entitled to prize money.
The Manu Samoa coach will be the only one from the coaching and management team pocket some reward money as well.