Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Sir Gordon Tietjens wins international award

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It has been a momentous week in the life of Sir Gordon Tietjens.

The 60-year-old was named Samoa's new head coach and received a highly coveted international award.

Tietjens was presented with a Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award from The BrandLaureate in association with the Asia Pacific Brand Foundation, which recognised world-class achievement in branding among individuals and companies.

Tietjens received a unique pewter trophy from Malaysia, plated in 24-carat gold, along with an ornately framed certificate.

Past winners have included Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali, Arnold Palmer, BB King, Omar Sharif, Ravi Shankar and Steve Jobs.

"Obviously I am really humbled by being given such an award," Tietjens said.

"When I looked at the number of high-profile people from a number of different countries from all over the world in sport and different fields, and the calibre of those people, it is amazing, really.

"How did they recognise what I had done and achieved in the sevens game as part of that? I was just really surprised and honoured."

Tietjens was also excited about his new role with Samoa, which he accepted after offers from Canada, Kenya and interest from Fiji.

"The biggest challenge for me is Samoa. They are sitting ninth in the World Series and they have got talent on the island and lots of talented players in New Zealand," he said.

"It is getting them back into the top four bracket of world sevens.

"They have been capable and have won a World Series but have probably had some dismal performances over the last couple of years. Yet they still won a tournament last year.

"My job is to get these guys back up and put a high performance plan in place, plus professionalise their systems in a lot of ways to make them able to compete with the best."

Tietjens will stay in Tauranga and continue to work for Bay Engineer Supplies, as well as coaching Samoa.

"When it first came about expressing an interest to coach one of these teams, the first person I went to was Warwick Talbut, who owns the company.

"They know sevens has been my passion and are unbelievably supportive. Again I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't had their support for 22 years.

"So the deal I struck up with Samoa is really ideal for myself as I am still able to live in New Zealand.

"By doing that I needed to have an assistant coach that lived in Samoa and someone that commanded a huge amount of respect in Samoa and Stephen Betham was that person."

Tietjens never had any thoughts of walking away from the game after the Rio Olympics.

"I wasn't retiring. I was always stepping down. I felt it was time for someone else to have a crack at New Zealand and now was time to set myself a goal for a new challenge.

"And that challenge is Samoa.

"It is something I am really excited about. I'm energised and really feel like getting over there and getting back into it."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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