Weightlifter, Don Opeloge, 20, had six thousand extra reasons to smile more than a month after he already covered himself in Pacific Games glory with three weightlifting gold medals.
On Saturday morning, he was presented with a cheque for $6,000 alongside 45 other gold medal-winning athletes and ten coaches as a gift from the Government in recognition for their achievements.
“This money for my family, especially my parents,” Opeloge said.
“Going forward, this is just the beginning, we won’t stop here, especially now with prizes from the Government, I will be trying even more and pushing my limits in order to do better and develop further in the sport.”
Following an opening prayer by Reverend Numereta Opetaia, the Minister of Education, Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C.), Loau Keneti Sio, gave a keynote address saying the prize money should be taken as a challenge from the Government for those athletes who did not quite reach the top of the podium.
“This day is special for those who represented Samoa, hence the aim of today, for our government to reward those who were successful, this is what today is all about,” he said.
“As you can see, this is not the full number of our Samoa team who competed, but you are the representatives.
“Our government foundations [on these matters] aren’t new, whoever wins gold medals represent everyone else, including those who won silver and bronze.”
More than 500 athletes represented Samoa in the XVI Pacific Games in July. They won a total of 38 gold medals.