Samoa Wins Two Gold Medals at Oceania Senior Wrestling Championships 2023

"These two boys have been training hard under the guidance of their Coach, Gaku Akazawa, right through covid.."

Coach Gaku Akazawa with Samoa's two Gold Medalists in the Greco-Roman Style - Maulalo Willie and Joshua Alofipo. Oceania Senior Wrestling Championships 2023, AIS Canberra. Photo: Samoa Wrestling.

9 August 2023 Canberra Australia. After a 12-year absence from competing at an Oceania Wrestling event, Samoa has made a great come back, securing two gold medals on the first day of competition held at the Australian Institute of Sports in Canberra.

Brothers Joshua and Willie Alofipo have each taken out the Gold Medal in their respective events. Maulalo Willie Alofipo has won the Gold Medal in the Men’s 97kg Greco-Roman Style, while his younger brother, Joshua Alofipo takes the Gold in the 71 kg event.

The Alofipo brothers are sons of Faatuatua i Le Atua Samoa Ua Tasi (FAST) Party Secretary, Va’aaoao Alofipo.

The pair have been training under the guidance of Samoa Wrestling Head Coach, Mr Gaku Akazawa and Samoa Wrestling Federation President, Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork at the Tuanaimato High Performance Unit.

Tuaopepe, who is himself a Samoan Wrestling Olympian having competed at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, says they have been working towards reviving the sport in Samoa in the past few years and their efforts have been well  rewarded.

“These two boys have been training hard under the guidance of their Coach, Gaku Akazawa, right through covid.. and what a come back for Samoa Wrestling with our first entry to an Oceania Championship since 2011,” said Tuaopepe.

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The highly disciplined training regime for Samoa Wrestling is similar to that of Samoa Weightlifting – lighting up the Tuanaimato High Performance Unit at 4am for 5am trainings from Monday to Saturday before the athletes are off to work, and then again in the afternoon with a third training snuck in during lunchtime on some days.

In preparation for the Oceania Weightlifting Championship 2023 with aspirations for Paris 2024, Samoa’s wrestlers had spent three months in an intensive training camp in Japan.

“I have to commend Coach Gaku Akazawa,” adds Tuaopepe. “He has committed so much time and effort into training his team”.

Akazawa relocated to Samoa in 2017 and is married to Samoan nurse Sinevalley Akazawa. He hopes to receive his Samoan citizenship this year and compete for Samoa at the Paris Olympics.

New arrivals at SOS – Togafuafua and Salelologa branches.

“It is very possible that Gaku and one of the brothers could qualify for Paris 2024,” says Tuaopepe.

The revival of Wrestling as a sport Samoa has not attracted any corporate sponsors to date, and Tuaopepe has inevitably carried the sport’s funding needs.

The President is confident that support for Wrestling will come with continued high performing results such as yesterday’s double gold.

The Tournament is not over yet and Samoa’s wrestlers will be competing in the freestyle today.

You can follow Samoa’s Wrestling team on the Oceania Weightlifting Championships link.

Sina Retzlaff