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Team Cook Islands touch down

Friday August 30, 2013 Written by Published in Other Sports

The small but experienced team of athletes representing the Cooks at the Wallis and Futuna Pacific Mini Games touched down in Fiji on Thursday afternoon.

The 16-strong team of athletes and officials were due to arrive in the host nation late last night for the two-week sporting event.

The team received positive words of encouragement in Rarotonga early Thursday morning by cabinet minister Kiriau Turepu and former formidable sportsman and CISNOC life member Papa Dan Kamana.

Team chef de mission Robert Graham paid special thanks to the government of the Cook Islands, which made a significant financial contribution to get the team to Wallis and Futuna.

The seven athletes including (athletics) Alex Beddoes, Patricia Taea, Tereapii Tapoki, (sailors) Teau McKenzie, Junior Charlie, Taua Elisa and weightlifter Luisa Peters are all experienced athletes having represented the nation at regional, Oceania and international sporting events including world events and the pinnacle Olympic Games.

During their one-day stopover in Fiji, the athletes spent time preparing mentally for their individual events and took advantage of the gym facilities at the Tanoa Hotel.

Runner Alex Beddoes is confident ahead of his three events in Wallis in Futuna where he will race in the men’s 400m, 1500m and his specialty event the 800m.

Beddoes is currently the national junior and senior 800m record holder with a time of 1.55.30 set in 2012.

Fellow team mate and track athlete Patricia Taea, who travelled to Wallis and Futuna from Australia, is the nation’s top female sprinter.

The 20 year old is currently training at the Regional Development Centre in Brisbane and arrived in Wallis and Futuna ahead of the rest of team Cook Islands.

Taea holds the 100m national sprint record with a time of 12.44 seconds and her time spent training with elite coaches in Australia is expected to produce some top times in Wallis and Futuna.

Field athlete Tereapii Tapoki is using the mini games as her comeback to national representation in shot put and discus.

Tapoki has been away from the sport for some time raising a family and has her eyes set on next year’s Commonwealth Games and the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Tapoki has had to squeeze training in between raising her young daughter and working as a local police officer and says these games will be a good indicator of what she will need to do to return to her gold medal winning ways ahead of the international sports events.

Teau McKenzie, who attends school in New Zealand, and Manihiki sailors Taua Elisa and Junior Charlie, were all medalists at the Pacific Games in New Caledonia and are focused on finishing on the Mini Games podium.

For sole female weightlifter Luisa Peters – the target is 120kg, the qualifying total lift for the Commonwealth Games next year.

The young lifter has been under the guidance of weightlifting legend and coach Paul Coffer at his academy in New Caledonia for the past month.

The team looks forward to representing the Cook Islands to the best of their ability on the regional sports stage in Wallis and Futuna.

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