Samoan Olympian Tattoo

I have to admit I have about zero interest in the Olympics, but I do browse the many, many articles on Olympic tattoos — for example, Oddee ran one a couple days ago that had an interesting mention of “sponsorship tattoos” (ie. selling your skin as adspace on eBay). However, most of the tattoos are quite generic, or just symbols of the corporate games which are no more interesting to me than a Nike swoosh — not that I begrudge any athlete getting them because of the immense significance to their lives. But a tattoo that caught my eye on a deeper level is that of Ele Opeloge, a Samoan female weightlifter in the +75kg category who I believe is actually competing today.


As you can see in that picture of her competing at the Bejing 2008 Olympics, she wears the “malu”, which was part of a coming-of-age ritual for her, symbolizing both maturity and a respect for the Samoan culture, society, and history. It’s refreshing to see similar tattoos on many Polynesian athletes — and you’ll also see them celebrating their culture in related ways, for example Maori rugby players doing the haka wardance before matches. In the picture below you can click to zoom in to get a better look at Ele’s tattoos


PS. Notice her “scarification by weightlifting” on her shins?

7 thoughts on “Samoan Olympian Tattoo

  1. Those shin scars look a lot like what happens when you repeatedly deadlift with good form. Maybe she has a background in Powerlifting.

  2. I haven’t moved into WLing yet but I’ve been under the impression that most WLers include DLs and squats as regular parts of their training, not lifts they’ve given up if they moved from PLing into WLing?

  3. can I just say how much i love that shannon’s back? i prefer posts like this over pin-up girls any day.

  4. Those marks are from cleaning the weight from the floor. The closer the bar is to your body, the easier the lift. And powerlifting is pretty much what she is doing. So she is a powerlifter. Thats a light load for a big gal, so i assume she is doing a clean and jerk and not a deadlift (plus her handgrip is wrong for a deadlift…).

  5. I’m pretty sure the malu has something to do with virginity and purity as well. A girl at work has one and her cousin was saying something about the virginity part of it. I’ll have to find out more from her Mum tonight and post further.

    Interestingly, the haka isn’t necessarily a “war dance”. There are different haka for different purposes.

    Annnnnd, awesome to see you posting, Shannon. Finally some posts with real meat!

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