Tokyo bound

With the countdown getting closer for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, athletes in Oceania are looking to cement their way onto their teams and to fulfil their Olympic dream.  One athlete who now looks certain to get a second hit at the Olympics is Samoan discus thrower, Alexander (Alex) Rose.

Alex Rose is in career-best form heading into the rescheduled Olympic Games in Tokyo. Based in the United States, where he had balanced work and training, Rose is currently on a sabbatical leave from his job at a technology company to concentrate on full-time training.  Prior to his sabbatical, it was not uncommon to see Rose training around his home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in a business shirt, not wanting to change to maximise his training time during his lunch break. Rose is currently ranked second in the world for discus, with his National Record throw of 67.17m, achieved on March 30, 2021. His consistency is shining through, with two competitions over the 66.00m Olympic Qualifying mark, which is further than what it was for the Rio 2016 Games; Rose’s first appearance at the Olympics.

Rose is looking to compete with the best throwers in the world in Tokyo, and is aiming to make the final.  In his major championships experience – four World Championships, one Commonwealth Games and one Olympic Games – Rose’s best performance came at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, with an eighth placed finish, throwing 59.56m.  That Commonwealth Games final saw half of the 12-man final made up from Oceania Federations, with three Australians, one Fijian, one Papua New Guinean, and Rose from Samoa.

Currently the only Pacific Island athlete with an Olympic Qualifier in athletics, Rose has been helped with the reschedule of the Olympic Games, after having surgery in September 2020 after discovering a tear in his abdominal muscles. The surgery, and recovery, has helped Rose to be able to train and compete without the pain he experienced in 2020.

Rose will turn 30 in November, and he is just now starting to reach his prime. It is not uncommon for male throwers to progress and throw well right into their 30s. Oceania Area Record Holder, Australian, Benn Harradine, broke the Area Record at the age of 31.  With the Area Record of 68.20m now only just 1.03m away, Rose would become the only Pacific Island athlete to currently hold an Oceania Area Record should he break it.

Rose is not only looking towards Tokyo, but he also has his eyes firmly set on Paris and would like the opportunity to compete in front of friends and family.  They had booked to come to Japan for the Olympics this time, however with the Japanese Government’s decision to not allow international spectators, it means for Rose and his family, they will have to wait until 2024.  Selected late for the 2016 Games, meant his family could not organise to get to Rio to watch Alex’s debut at the Olympics.

Rose isn’t the first Samoan to throw the discus at the Olympic Games; he follows Henry Smith in 1984 and Shaka Sola in 2004. For now, it’s Tokyo for Rose, with career-best form, he will be one to watch as he looks towards throwing in the final of the Olympic Games.

Around the Pacific there are several other athletes waiting to have their selections confirmed, including the strong Australian and New Zealand teams which have been named.

Australian Track and Field Olympic Team

Kelsey-Lee BarberJavelin
Stewart McSweyn1500m, 10000m
Jess Hull500m
Dane Bird-Smith20km Walk
Jemima Montag20km Walk
Nina KennedyPole Vault
Catriona Bisset800m
Linden Hall1500m
Ash MoloneyDecathlon
Dani StevensDiscus
Genevieve Gregson3000m Steeplechase
Brooke StrattonLong Jump
Nicola McDermottHigh Jump
Elizabeth Clay100m Hurdles
Rohan Browning100m
Kurtis MarschallPole Vault
Cedric DublerDecathlon
Bendere Obova400m
Riley Day200m
Jye Edwards1500m

New Zealand Track and Field Olympic Team

Dame Valerie AdamsShot Put
Tom WalshShot Put
Nick Willis1500m
Connor BellDiscus
Maddison-Lee WescheShot Put
Sam Tanner1500m
Jacko GillShot Put
Quentin Rew50km Walk
Zane RobertsonMarathon
Lauren BruceHammer Throw
Camille Buscomb5000m, 10000m
Malcolm HicksMarathon
Hamish KerrHigh Jump
Tori PeetersJavelin

It is expected that there will be other athletes added to these lists over the coming weeks, as the Oceania Athletics Association, looks to finalise ranking and qualifications events on the Gold Coast.

Whilst final decisions are still to be confirmed on who will represent the remaining Oceania Athletics Association Member Federations at the Olympics, the following athletes look set to represent their Federation in Tokyo:

Cook Islands Track and Field Olympic Team

Alex Beddoes – 800m

Federated States of Micronesia Track and Field Olympic Team

Scott Fiti – 100m

Kiribati Track and Field Olympic Team

Lataisi Mwea – 100m