Taekwondo Samoa Return from Aotearoa with Two Gold and Six Silver Medals

"It doesnt have to be just Martial Arts, but sports in general teaches us certain values in life that helps us through worldly struggles,"

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Taekwondo Samoa have returned from competing at a Taekwondo New Zealand National Championship tournament with two gold and six silver medals.

Led by Samoan Olympian and 3rd Dan Athlete and National Coach, Tapunuu Kaino Thomsen-Fuataga, the team of four athletes competed against the best of New Zealand and achieved an 8-medal tally.

Ryan Eteuati, Oswald Tapelu, Tovale Filipo and Irae Mose Simi competed in the event last weekend at the Akau Tangi Sports Arena in Kilbirnie Wellington.

Samoa’s athletes competed against much more experienced fighters, all of whom had a plethora of mat time.  Testament to the high level of local athletes, was Taekwondo Samoa’s ability to match the level of competition.

The youngest of the four athletes at just 17 years of age, Ryan Eteuati, earned himself 3 medals over the weekend.

L-R: Ryan Eteuati, Oswald Tapelu, Irae Mose Simi and Tovale Filipo.

The youngster won a gold medal for the 74kg Junior Division and then competed a weight class up in the 78kg Junior division, and also won gold there too!

Eteuati’s third medal was a silver in the 74kgs Open division, where he competed against seniors.

In the final, Eteuati just fell short of a gold to a well experienced member of New Zealand’s national team.

The only female out of the four athletes, Tovale Filipo, added two silver medals of her own to Samoa’s tally. She competed in Open division -57kg as well as the Masters division -57kg.

Irae Mose Simi entered both the Open division +87kg and the Open division -87kg. Simi came away with silver medals in both divisions.

Oswald Tapelu would round off Samoa’s success with a silver medal of his own. Tapelu found success in the Open division -68kg.

The sport of Taekwondo was first brought to Samoa by the late Fuataga Kasimani Lautusi. Today, KLAS (Kasimani Lautusi and Sons) continues the legacy to develop athletes and represent Samoa.

3rd Dan Athlete and Coach Tapunuu Kaino is assisted by younger brothers Fritz (2nd Dan) and Zoe (1st Dan).

The success of team Samoa is all hard work and determination. Tapunuu shares the weekly sessions that spreads across six days of the week.

“The club trains everyday Monday to Friday with sparring reserved for Saturdays,” said Samoa’s Pacific Games Gold Medalist.

“There are two sessions on Mondays and Wednesdays.. we have a session at MyFit gym in the morning and then taekwondo specific trainings at the dojang in Matautu in the afternoons.”

“On Tuesdays, Thursday and Fridays we are also in training at the dojang.”

Juniors at the Kukkiwon Cup in Auckland. Aug 2023.

Samoa’s Taekwondo development is primarily funded by the KLAS family who also provide the facilities for athletes and the Junior programme.

A Samoa delegation of Junior athletes who competed in August at the 2023 New Zealand Kukkiwon Cup in Auckland, came away with 15 medals.

Tapunuu acknowledged and thanked the support of family and friends of the four athletes who participated.

Taekwondo is still very much a self-supported sport. Tapunuu says his focus as a National Coach is to help develop mental, physical and spiritual strength through sports.

“It doesnt have to be just Martial Arts, but sports in general teaches us certain values in life that helps us through worldly struggles,” said Tapunuu Kaino who also represented Samoa in rugby.

“Rugby, Boxing, Tennis, Weightlifting.. all require the same principles and values of hard work, commitment, determination and discipline to produce the growth we all need.”

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Brisin Manu Retzlaff-Lima
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