American Samoans excited to compete

Erika Radewagen
Erika Radewagen
Kenneth Tupua
Kenneth Tupua

By Jason Tang - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - One week from Friday, the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing begin.

And while the world focuses on how many medals each country wins, some feel like they've already won, just because they're able to attend.

Officially, it's a territory of the United States deep in the south Pacific Ocean.

But the people who live in American Samoa aren't citizens of the United States, they're U.S. Nationals. Which also means they represent themselves in the Olympics games.

"We're very, very fortunate as a small country to have the ability to participate in such large international competitions," said Erika Radewagen, an American Samoa swimmer.

This year, American Samoa will have five athletes competiting in swimming, wrestling and judo.

"Because we were able to get into the Olympics, the idea is to have Olympians, not necessarily win, but somewhere along the lines to get these kids to where they can compete at this level," said Kenneth Tupua of the Samoan Olympic Committee.

Even though their athletes have very slim chances of medalling, it's not about winning or losing.

"It's more about the participation for us at this point, rather than the real competition of it with the medalist. They'll come back Olympians and to be able to share that experience with our upcoming athletes will be tremendous."

Just like the experience will be of walking behind their country's colors.

"In the opening ceremonies, when you call your country out, it's such a feeling, that, it's a one time feeling that you never experience it, and when you do, you will know how big of an event this is."

American Samoa isn't the only small island fielding a team. For the first time ever, the Marshall Islands will have Olympians.