Written by OAA Life Member Bob Snow
Following on from the visit to Samoa, the Oceania Athletics President, Geoff Gardner, and Executive Director, Yvonne Mullins, flew the short distance from Apia to Pago Pago to visit Athletics American Samoa.
After a productive meeting with coach, Lologa Olo, OAA next met with the American Samoan Department of Education. It is hoped that in the near future every school will have a qualified Athletics coach who will be able to offer Athletics as one of the sports during the weekly physical education lessons.
At present the only usable track in American Samoa is a concrete one at the site of the Athletics venue for the 1997 Mini South Pacific Games. A meeting was arranged with the National Olympic Committee to discuss how the track surface could be replaced. The funding options were also explored.
On the final day in the territory, we were guests at the Fagatogo Methodist Hall where Geoff Gardner and Yvonne Mullins conducted a short seminar on the wide variety of events our sport offers, and suitable training sessions. Healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle were points that were also stressed.
Following the seminar the group put-on a short performance of traditional dancing and singing. Geoff and Yvonne put many high-profile politicians to shame with their excellent dancing styles.
There are many opportunities to build on village and school based competitions, and produce a domestic season that culminates in a national championship, from which the representative teams can be selected. In the near future American Samoa will send teams to the Polynesian Championships in Tahiti in November, and in 2019 they will attend the Oceania Championships in Townsville (June) and the Pacific Games, just a short distance across the sea in Apia (July). Later in 2019 American Samoa will be represented by their best athlete at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar.
From Pago Pago we flew back across the International Dateline, losing 24 hours in the process. From there it was back to our respective countries, but for Geoff it was just the beginning of many more trips in the weeks and months ahead.
Heading south to New Zealand, Geoff held meetings in Auckland with Athletics New Zealand, Dame Valerie Adams (IAAF Athletes Commission), Maria Clarke (Chair of the IAAF Governance and Integrity Reform Group) and Annette Purvis (IAAF Women’s Committee).
From Auckland Geoff Gardner joined Trevor Spittle as both headed to Buenos Aires where they will be part of the Jury of Appeal at the World Youth Olympics.
With forthcoming trips to Tahiti (for the Polynesian Championships), Rome and Monaco, there is a short Christmas and New Year break on the horizon for our president where he can enjoy a travel-free period at this home on Norfolk Island.
Assembled group at the Fagatoga Methodist Hall.