American Samoa show the world their culture
By Matt Bowcott of The Reporters' Academy
The eyes of the world descended on London, for what many called the greatest show on Earth. 204 Teams from around the globe, came together to celebrate the Opening of the 30th Olympiad. The show, directed by Danny Boyle of ’Slumdog Millionnaire’, was showcasing Great Britain through the years, jam packed with British Culture. Many of the teams decided to bring a cultural element to the ceremony, by wearing traditional outfits, and American Samoa certainly demonstrated their national pride through their traditional costumes.
Prior to the athletes arriving, the audience saw the stadium change from the idyllic setting of the British Countryside to the Industrial Revolution.
As we travelled through the centuries of British history the atmosphere was electric inside the stadium, with 80,000 people gearing up to welcome the athletes.
The first Oceania team into the arena was American Samoa. Flag-bearer Ching Maou Wei said, “every costume has a meaning to it, and is a real part of our tradition.” Nathaniel Tuamoheloa and Anthony Liu were dressed as a ‘Matai’s’ leading the team out into the ceremony, acting in the traditional role as Chiefs. Both were wearing just the ‘Ie Faitage’ and have the ‘fue’ on their shoulder holding a staff called a ‘To’oto’o.
For American Samoa, the fifth team to enter the stadium, the feeling was unequivocal, Judo competitor Anthony Liu said ‘as I entered the stadium it felt as if the energy came from within, everyone was cheering for us.’
Wrestler, Nathaniel Tuamoheloa, added ‘everyone wanted to take pictures of us and it was great to see that many people watching me and the team.’
Walking around the stadium with the athletes, was a special experience for American Samoa Chef de Mission Kent Yamada "The atmosphere was electric, I was overwhelmed with this spectacle. The stadium looked magnificent. The giant monitor screens provided excellent viewing points. It was so clever how the volunteers were not only in charge of organising our march inside the stadium, but was also part of the entertainment.”
The official flag bearer for American Samoa Ching Maou Wei described how he felt holding his country’s flag “As I walked around the stadium, I was in awe, just taking in the moment. I was so happy and excited, such a mix of emotions. My favourite part was the lighting of the torch. The design was so artistic, and best of all, it kept you warm as it was a cold night!"
For all the athletes, in the back of their minds was what their families and friends thought about the ceremony. Anthony said ‘everyone back from American Samoa would have been proud of their boys.’ Megan Fonteno added “A shock went through me, as I walked in and realised what it really meant to be a part of the Olympics. My Family are so proud.”
Once the athletes, were inside the stadium, the ceremony advanced into the 21st Century, with artists like Arctic Monkeys and Sir Paul McCartney giving the athletes and delegates and warm British welcome.
Then came the moment everyone waited for, for the Olympics to be officially opened. Speeches from Lord Sebastian Coe and Dr Jacques Rogge who both said ‘the Games returned to their rightful home’ then we welcomed Her Majesty the Queen to officially open the Games.
The closely guarded secret of the Olympic Torch was revealed as over 200 cooper petals representing each country was lit, and blossomed into a flower, that will burn brightly for the duration of the games, and represent what the Olympic family is all about. Each country now has their own part of the torch, which they will be able to take back to their countries and ‘inspire a generation’.
The games are hoped to be a catalyst, to get more young people involved in sport and create a legacy to be forever apparent. This relates to the ceremony, with lots of young people being involved in the production and the 7 young torch bearers used to light the flame and officially start the games, American Samoa have a team which has a lot of youthful energy and are hoping to use the energy in London and future Olympic Games