Team American Samoa Pacific Games medal tally at 6 after Tuesday's events
Honiara, SOLOMON ISLANDS — Team American Samoa’s medal tally in the 2023 Pacific Games currently stands at 6, with the welcome addition of one silver medal and three bronze medals through the individual efforts of two bodybuilders and two powerlifters.
Bodybuilders Monique Morgan McMoore and Olefa Dallin Fepulea’i were the first to contribute the first two medals on Tuesday with Monique winning bronze in the Over 165cm Athletic Physique Female event, and Dallin winning the bronze medal in the Under 80kg Male category.
MONIQUE MORGAN McMOORE
In an exclusive interview with Monique, she stated that she is currently attending college at the Golden Gate University in San Francisco studying for a degree in Business Administration and that she had prepared for the Pacific Games for the last six months.
Bronze medalist Monique McMoore and her coach/trainer Daynah Cooper. [photo: Asi A. Fa’asau]
Before that, she had served in the US Marine Corps and after an honorable discharge, she had pursued her college education.
She had been interested in bodybuilding through her father, the late Smitty McMoore and her mom Sala had encouraged her.
“I wanted to challenge myself mentally and physically and at the same time showcase our island’s beauty and strength,” the 28 year-old powerlifter shared. “I’m very happy and proud to be able to give something back to our people and to represent women.”
She also shared that the medal she has acquired is very special as this is also her very first competition.
The bronze medalist is accompanied by her coach/trainer Dayna Cooper whom she met at the gym where she works out at and had asked for her assistance.
“I’m going back home and train hard so I can bring back the gold for our people in the next four years,” she declared.
OLEFA DALLIN FEPULEA’I
Olefa or Dallin as he is more widely known is a 17 year-old senior at Tafuna High School who hails from Ottoville.
Olefa Dallin Fepulea’i bronze medalist in the Under 80kg category of the 2023 Pacific Games Bodybuilding Competition. [photo: Asi A. Fa’asau]
He is the youngest of three children born to Maea and Lyllah Fepulea’i, his two older siblings are sister Jada and brother Maea, Jr. respectively.
According to Dallin, it was at the Sau Ia Gym in Tafuna where he frequents that he became interested in Bodybuilding.
He had been training as a powerlifter but one of his friends suggested that he take on bodybuilding and he warmed up to the idea, going on diets to lose the extra pounds.
At first, it was hard changing his diet to just chicken breast and vegetable salad, sometimes just vegetables and fruits.
However, when his participation at the Pacific Games was confirmed, he stuck to his diet and trained everyday, fitting his training sessions to his school schedule.
“My daily timetable was to wake up at 4am, train for three hours, go to school, train after school until 7pm to 8pm,” he recalled. “When we had JROTC programs, I had to attend because I’m the Task Force Commander, then afterward, straight to the gym until 8pm. It was a strict schedule, leaving home before light and returning at night, but it was worth it.”
He pointed out that he has learned a lot about dieting and the right food he must eat to keep his body in shape.
“Winning a medal in the 2023 Pacific Games is a dream come true to me, and I know I can achieve a lot in this sport because I’m still young,” the 17 year-old THS senior said. “So I’m going to stick to my training regimen to get myself in the best possible shape for the next Pacific Games, or whatever international fixture I can compete in to represent American Samoa.”
Add another bronze to Team American Samoa medal tally and you have Powerlifter Marcel McMoore-Collins to thank for that.
Competing in the 84+ Division of the Powerlifting competition grabbed bronze and she’s still in a daze with the fact that she got it on her very first attempt in the international arena.
“It’s still surreal, even today!” she said. “I can’t believe that the whole year that we prepped for this competition was over just like that! It’s almost like a dream! Honestly! Because the moment was so short!”
She stated that to win a medal for American Samoa is an honor and it’s very special for her to have her sister Monique also winning a medal in Bodybuilding.
Marcel revealed that she first got interested in powerlifting during college when she met a trainer and he convinced her that if she started to train, she’d be able to compete with elite Athletes.
“That was four years ago,” she recalled. “I stayed with it because I fell in love with the sport and how amazing it feels when you see your numbers going higher and higher!”
Marcel was born in California but moved with her family to American Samoa in 1999 and attended elementary and most of high school at the South Pacific Academy, but spent her senior year at Fa’asao Marist High School.
She went to college at Bacone College in Oklahoma where she earned her Bachelor’s degree.
She currently works at the Department of Parks and Recreation and plans to pursue her Masters in January.
The powerlifter with a bubbly personality is married to Cameron Collins and they have three daughters.
“First of all, I give thanks and all the glory to God for enabling me to make this achievement for without Him we can do nothing,” she acknowledged. “I also would like to thank Peter and mom for their encouragement and for making sure the gym was always available.
“To my coaches and everyone who gave me a tip to help me and especially to my husband and my three girls who were always there for me. We’re like the pioneers in powerlifting for women in American Samoa and to win medals in our first try is just awesome!”
Team American Samoa’s second silver medal has been secured by powerlifter Nolita Motu who also competed in the 84+ Division.
In an interview with the silver medalist, she stated that she never thought she would win a silver medal on her first attempt in the international arena.
She declared that she will continue to train hard for the next international fixture so she can compete again for American Samoa and win more medals.
Nolita recounted her journey and recalled that she used to work out at the gym to get much needed exercise.
But she got interested in the sport of powerlifting when she met Marcel who persuaded her to join her and try out. She then met Marcel’s mom Sala who further encouraged her, and the next thing she knew, she had signed up!
Born and raised in the Territory, she did her elementary and high school at Leone Midkiff and Leone High School, then went on to ASCC before going off-island for college where she graduated with a Bachelors in Archeology.
She has two children and is a single mother.
This Pacific Games report was made possible by the kind sponsorship of Paramount Builders Inc. and ASNOC.