“A Guide to the Games,” Ensign, Dec. 1996, 55
“It is important to make friends and understand people from other parts of the world,” says Tufuga Samuelu Atoa, who managed Western Samoa’s 1996 Olympic team. “For small countries like ours, the most important thing for us regarding the Olympics is to participate.”
The five Western Samoan Olympic athletes, none of whom is a member of the Church, specialized in javelin and discus throwing, boxing, and weight lifting. “I got to know them, and I was a father to them while they were away from home,” Brother Atoa says. “All my Church callings prepared me for this job.”
Brother Atoa received the Western Samoan Order of Merit last year for his lifetime of service, and in 1994 he was honored with a Distinguished Service Award by the Western Samoan Sports Federation and the National Olympic Committee. He has accompanied Western Samoan athletes to other international competitions, and he participated on behalf of his country in the 1996 Olympics planning process. He once served as chairperson of Western Samoa’s Public Service Commission. Today he manages a travel agency.
A member of the Pesega Fifth Ward, Pesega Samoa Stake, Brother Atoa has served as a bishop, high councilor, stake president, regional representative, and temple president. Currently he is a temple worker and Western Samoa’s national public affairs director.
Although the Western Samoans didn’t win any medals, Brother Atoa affirms that “it has been a wonderful thing for us to mingle with people from all over the world.”