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American Samoa already has medals for the 2024 Oceania Athletics Championships

The Iakopo clan
So far… one gold and one bronze

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — American Samoa is being represented in the 2024 Oceania Athletics Championships which began last Saturday in Suva, Fiji and the Territory is already on the medal tally with one gold and one bronze!

The top athletes in the Oceania region were burning rubber on the tracks on Day 1 and American Samoa’s Stanley Iakopo who is competing in the Masters Division for athletes 30 years and over, bagged a bronze medal in the 60m sprint.

He then hit the jackpot on Day 2 which was Monday (our Sunday), by winning gold in the 110m hurdles.

“I’m very proud to win these medals for my beloved American Samoa and all the glory to God,” Iakopo stated. “The powerhouses Australia and New Zealand are also competing but American Samoa is right there in the mix.”

Stanley Iakopo is joined at the Oceania Athletics Champs by two of his five children, 18-year-old daughter Filomenaleonisa and 17-year-old son Mametto who will also be competing. The third son, 16-year-old Audiscott who had been preparing for this fixture unfortunately could not make it due to an injury he sustained during training.

The Iakopo children have all inherited their father’s love of sports especially track and field, and are also no strangers to international competitions having competed in numerous international fixtures through the years.

All three competed with their father at last year’s 17th Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon Islands.

For Filomenaleonisa, her last international outing was the World Athletics Indoor Championships held in Glasgow, Scotland in March, where she battled it out with world’s top athletes.

In an interview with Samoa News during the Pacific Games in Solomon Islands last year, the three Iakopo children all credited their dad as the driving force and inspiration in their athletics journey, that pushes them to perform to the best of their abilities.

Their efforts have been greatly boosted by former Olympian Peter Pulu who is a legend in his native Papua New Guinea for his sprinting prowess in his heyday back in the 1980s, when he set national records which remain unbroken up to this day.

Pulu, who is a close friend of Stanley from the days when they competed against each other, was approached by Stanley if he could be a trainer and instructor to his children and he agreed.

Stanley pays Pulu out of his own pocket and provides accommodation for him at their family home in Saipan.

Stanley Iakopo who is currently the Human Resources Director at the LBJ Tropical Medical Center, moved back to American Samoa at the beginning of this year after living with his family in Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas (CNMI) for more than 20 years.

The veteran athlete has been running under the American Samoa flag in international athletics meets since the 1980s and at 51 years of age, shows no sign of slowing down.

In fact, in April this year, he won the prestigious title of Mr. American Samoa in the 8th Annual Sau Ia Bodybuilding Championships competing against athletes half his age.

Bodybuilding is another passion of this avid athlete who is always challenging himself physically and he is also a veteran in the sport, having won the Mr. American Samoa title as a 17-year-old in the first ever bodybuilding competition to be held in the Territory in 1990. He won the title again in 1992.

After winning the title for a third time as a 51-year-old last April, he immediately threw himself into a strenuous training regimen to prepare for the Oceania Athletics Championships in Fiji.

Last week, he traveled to Saipan to attend his daughter’s high school graduation, then flew to Fiji with his two young athletes to represent American Samoa.

Stanley will be competing in three more events — the 100m, 200m and Long Jump events.

Filomenaleonisa and Mametto will be competing in the 100m and 200m events in their respective divisions this evening as we go to print. We will report on the rest of their results this week.

After the Oceania meet in Fiji, they will return to Saipan where Stanley intends to settle their affairs before moving to American Samoa with his family.