4 Aug 2008

Samoa head of state heads to Beijing Olympics

9:25 am on 4 August 2008

Samoa's head of state Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi is looking forward to attend the opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics and wishes the Chinese sports team great success.

The Xinhua news agency quotes his highness saying he's a firm friend of China and would like the Chinese team to do well in the Olympics...well enough to reinforce the impact of the Chinese achievements in sports and other fields.

Samoa is sending six athletes to Beijing. The team includes: archer Joseph Walter, South Pacific Games middle distance track champion Aunese Curreen, Serafina Aleki and Farani Tavui in boxing.

Samoa also has the first Pacific Islander to compete in kayak at the Olympic level, Rudolf Williams, and one of Oceania's great medal hopes, weightlifter Ele Opeloge.

Tuiatua a tennis enthusiast says he would like the Samoa team to win medals, and if that's not possible, that they live up to the finest standards of the Olympic tradition.

His highness said the current relations between Samoa and China are excellent and he expects that they will improve in the years ahead.

Samoa donated $100,000 to China's Sichuan earthquake victims. Tuiatua said the move reflects the strong ties between the Chinese and the Samoan people.

China built sports facilities for last year's South Pacific Games and sent Chinese

coaches to Samoa.

Tuiatua says the Chinese assistance underlines the importance of sports in the physical and spiritual development of youth.