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Carrying the American Samoa Flag is territory’s sole Olympian

Micah Masei and his coach Cassandra Bess Lund
“Representing American Samoa is very special to me… “

Honiara, SOLOMON ISLANDS — Team American Samoa’s sole Olympian, Micah Masei was given the honor of carrying the national flag of American Samoa during the Parade of Nations in the Opening Ceremony of the 17th Pacific Games on Sunday evening, Nov. 19, 2023.

This was officially announced during a team meeting on Saturday night prior to the Opening Ceremony.

In an exclusive interview, Masei told Samoa News that he was humbled by the honor accorded him and he felt nervous because this was the first time he had been given the opportunity to perform this prestigious duty.

Having already achieved one of the greatest moments of his career by taking part in the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, he stated that being asked to be the flag bearer for Team American Samoa in the 17th Pacific Games, was indeed an added honor for him because only a few chosen ones are asked to carry the flag of their national delegation to any major international sporting event.

The 24 year-old quiet-spoken swimmer is the son of Bill and Tobi Masei and was born in Coos Bay, Oregon. He has two siblings, older brother Alika and younger sister Malia.

Born of a Samoan father who hails from the village of Faga’alu and a mother who is a US citizen of Chinese ancestry, Micah’s facial features are predominantly Asian but with brown Polynesian skin, complemented by the chiseled and well-toned 6’2” body of a swimmer, with long legs, narrow hips, a six-pack stomach mushrooming to wide strong shoulders.

One thing, which is unmistakably Samoan about him is his half-sleeve tattoo which starts just above his left elbow down to his wrist which he had done shortly after the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo.

The tattoo incorporates theMicah Masei Olympic rings with Samoan traditional designs to remind him of how he represented American Samoa in the Olympics, a feat he hopes to repeat next year in Paris.

 “I had it done to show that I was able to support and represent American Samoa at the Olympics and I couldn’t have done it without my heritage,” he stated. “I also did it for my brother and sister to show that we have a connection to American Samoa.”

The 24 year-old swimmer revealed that traveling to American Samoa so that he could travel with the national delegation to the Games in the Solomons, was also the first time he had visited the Territory.

 “It was great to finally see the island where my dad’s family is from,” he said. “And my grandfather hasn’t been back to the island where he was born and raised for a long time, so to be able to share these memories with him will be very special.”

He was also thankful of the opportunity to meet family members that he had not met before and treasured the time they spent together in the short time he had been in the Territory.

He was educated at West Salem High School and later at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa where he graduated with a degree in Finance and has lived in the Aloha State since.

Micah is accompanied by his coach Cassandra Bess Lund, who is the American Samoa Swimming Association (ASSA) national coach.

A native of California, Lund swam for US Swimming in her youth and has progressed to coaching young swimmers. Two of her swimmers medalled in the 2016 Olympics.

Micah credits his mother for getting him interested in competitive swimming and acknowledged the support of his father and siblings.

Micah first represented American Samoa internationally in 2019 at the Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA) World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju, South Korea.

FINA is now known as World Aquatics and is the international federation recognized by the International Olympic Committee for administering international competitions in water sports.

Next was the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, followed by the 20th edition of the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan in July, 2023 and now the 17th Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands.

He specializes in the Breaststroke and Freestyle and will be competing in the 50m Breaststroke on Tuesday 21 November (Monday 20 November in American Samoa), the 50m Freestyle on Wednesday 22 November (Tuesday 21 in American Samoa) and the 100m Breaststroke on Thursday 23 November (Wednesday 22 in American Samoa).

 “Representing American Samoa is very special to me and it will certainly give me another drive to push me towards the wall,” he declared.

This Pacific Games report is possible through the generous sponsorship of Paramount Builders, Inc. and ASNOC.