Siniva Marsters is a long way away from home.
But she believes the entire Pacific is now her home, as she represents the Pacific Islands as a finance officer in the anti-doping unit at the Oceania National Olympic Committee in Fiji.
Marsters holds the Cook Islands record for hammer-throw with a distance of 48.47m – a mark she set back in 2003 that has never been topped.
She is well-known for her athletics career representing the Cook Islands at the Oceania Athletics Championships, New Zealand Nationals and Australian Nationals, South Pacific Games, Commonwealth Games, and World Track and Field Championships. She has accumulated a good few medals and titles throughout the Pacific.
Looking back at how she started her career Marsters said her Tereora College teachers Tangaia Patia and Akanoa Williams encouraged her.
“They basically said to me, you are big to be a thrower,” she laughs.
“So I listened and started throwing at Tereora College and then went on to be coached by throws coach Vainga Tonga.”
At the age of 13 she was invited to represent the Cooks in her first international competition, the Coca Cola Games in Fiji in 1994.
Travelling for regional competitions at a young age, Marsters says she was never too shy nor too scared to compete.
Her coach always told her to treat each competition as a training session. “Don’t worry about the crowd, they came to see your performance, do your best,” she recalls Tonga saying.
“I’ve never been scared to compete, I loved performing in front of crowds, I’m not a shy person. I get along with anyone.
“My dad always said, no point in being shy you need to be humble and respect your audience.”
Marsters’ first medal was at the age of 16, at the 2007 South Pacific Mini Games in American Samoa, where she won a bronze medal for discus.
Her highest achievement was at the Pacific Games in Samoa, where she placed third in the women’s hammer throw.
She was trained in New Zealand, Australia and Europe, where her dad was her manager.
Marsters has worked for the Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee since 2000 where she was employed as an administration officer.
Having resigned last year as sports manager she looked for more experience at a bigger sporting body.
“I saw an opening at the Oceania National Olympic Committee and I quickly submitted my application and successfully got the position,” she says.
“I then packed up and left for Suva, Fiji which is where the headquarters is based.”
At 38, Marsters son Tiger and her mother are in Rarotonga, but that’s okay. To her being in Fiji is not new, as her close Fijian family who looked after her in 1994 continue to assist her.
Because of her vast knowledge in Olympics solidarity funding, Marsters is assisting, Pacific member countries in applying for sports medicine courses and in engaging more anti-doping awareness programs.
She looks after Cook Islands, Tuvalu and two of the biggest testing countries, Samoa and Fiji, assisting with their education awareness programs, applications for funding and as a facilitator for the Chaperone and Doping Control Officer training.
This year she went to Tuvalu to conduct a session with the Tuvalu National Olympic Committee and form the Tuvalu Medical and Anti-Doping Organisation.
“I am happy and grateful for this opportunity to be working on a Regional Organisation level,” she says. “It’s very challenging as now I am not only dealing with one National Olympic Committee, but 15 in total.
“An experience of a lifetime and, yes, I do plan to one day try and go into games management which is what I specialise in.”
Looking back at home, Marsters says: “Cook Islands has always been part of my culture growing up.
“I always told people I’m from the Cooks and they would always say, but you have a Samoan name and your dad has a Tahitian name.
“But the Marsters name is what I’m proud to be from and represent.”
ADVICE TO ATHLETES
Marsters says sports is not just about attending games and going to competitions but can lead to wider opportunities within the corporate world.
“Yes, we play sport to win that’s the main goal and why we train 24/7. But it’s also an opportunity to be part of what makes up these games and working with the stakeholders.”
Every sport opportunity can lead to regional positions and opportunities that could eventually set you up to give back to the Cook Islands community, she says.
“Sports Tourism is massive and can help in other areas in health and education, which is one of our biggest stakeholders. Everyone plays sport – walking and exercising is a form of sport and fitness